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Bucs' McCutchen's bat doing the talking

| Sunday, March 29, 2009

BRADENTON, Fla. — Outfielder Andrew McCutchen continues to show he is ready for the major leagues.

On Saturday, McCutchen went 5 for 5 — three doubles, a solo homer and an RBI single — in the Pirates' 10-4 victory over the Philadelphia Phillies.

"I don't think I've had five hits since rookie league," McCutchen said. "It was amazing. I amaze myself."

McCutchen, the Pirates' top draft pick in 2005, is batting .308 this spring. He's reached base in 17 of 21 games and has drawn a team-high 12 walks.

"I came here just to show them that I can play, that I'm ready," McCutchen said. "That's all I can do, just go out and play as hard as I can. I believe I have done that so far this spring training."

However, management does not yet seem willing to give McCutchen a spot on the Opening-Day roster.

"We're excited about the potential that he brings," manager John Russell said. "You've got to be careful about a one-game evaluation. You've got to be careful about a spring training evaluation, good or bad. We're not going to jump into things at this point."

Jaramillo wins battle

After five years in the minors and four spring training camps, Jason Jaramillo finally is going to the big leagues.

"Long journey," Jaramillo said. "I mean, I'm only 26, so it's not that long. But to me, it's my whole life."

Yesterday morning, Jaramillo found out he will be the Pirates' backup catcher on Opening Day. Robinzon Diaz was optioned to Triple-A Indianapolis.

"I knew it was between me and Robinzon," Jaramillo said. "But it wasn't the battle (that was hard). It was more me wanting to take the pressure off myself to make a good impression."

Jaramillo's voice cracked with emotion, and he paused a moment.

"I'm ecstatic right now, to say the least."

General manager Neal Huntington said the deciding factor was Jaramillo's superior defensive skills.

"Where we are right now with our pitching staff, we felt like we needed to have the defender first," Huntington said. "Jason is a better receiver and is in tune with the program we're trying to implement."

Jaramillo was solid yesterday against the Phillies, the team which traded him in December.

In the second inning, Jaramillo picked Marcus Giles off first base. In the third, he nailed Carlos Ruiz at third.

The Pirates swapped one-time starter Ronnie Paulino for Jaramillo. The Phillies traded Paulino to the San Francisco Giants, who then quickly flipped Paulino to the Florida Marlins.

"It's worked out perfect for me," Jaramillo said.

Pearce sent to Indy

Steve Pearce also was optioned to Indianapolis. Infielder Anderson Machado was reassigned to minor-league camp.

Pearce will play mostly first base in the minors. Plans to use him in right field have mostly been scrapped, setting up Pearce as a possible long-term replacement for Adam LaRoche.

"That definitely (softens) the blow," Pearce said. "I'm going to go down and take it serious and work on my offensive approach. I need to get back to where I was in 2007."

The Pirates have 37 players in camp. A big wave of cuts is expected in the next day or two.

Planet of the aches

Jack Wilson fouled a ball off the inside of his left knee Friday in a minor-league game. Wilson was not in the lineup yesterday, but his injury is not believed to be serious. ... Phil Dumatrait (shoulder) will throw two innings today in a minor-league game. It will be his first outing this spring. "I can't wait," Dumatrait said. ... Reliever Evan Meek (shoulder) threw a bullpen session yesterday and is tentatively slated to pitch in a game tomorrow.

Rotation shaping up

Ross Ohlendorf was told yesterday morning he has locked up a spot in the rotation. Also, left-hander Paul Maholm was officially designated as the Opening-Day starter.

The No. 5 spot still is undetermined, although Jeff Karstens seems to be the favorite. The pitching order after Maholm is not set, though it likely will be righty Ian Snell, lefty Zach Duke and rightly Ohlendorf.

Additional Information:

Today's game

Pirates vs. Yankees

1:15 p.m

McKechnie Field, Bradenton, Fla.

Radio: WPGB-FM (104.7)

Pirates probable starter: LHP Zach Duke

Yankees probable starter: RHP A.J. Burnett

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