* The Bucs sneaked past the Netherland's WBC squad 5-4 today, led by Garrett Jones' three RBI. The Europeans don't have any MLB players on its roster, so the Pirates reciprocated by sending a decidedly B side on the field.
Andy Phillips doubled in another run, and Jeff Salazar hit his second homer of the spring. The bad news was that Luis Cruz, coming off of a hip sprain, had to leave after a couple of innings. He had just an outside shot of making the team, and spending too much more time in the tub won't do his chances any favors.
Donnie Veal pitched a scoreless inning of relief, his fourth of the spring, striking out the side. Closer Matt Capps fanned a pair in his inning of work. Romulo Sanchez and Jeff Sues pitched scoreless innings, too.
Ross Ohlendorf, Jesse Chavez (unearned), Denny Bautista, and Daniel Haigwood all yielded runs during their time on the hill.
The Pirates will play the Twins tomorrow at 1:05 p.m. at McKechnie Field. The game will be available on free webcast via the Pirate's homepage, www.pirates.com.
* Good news on the WBC front: Ian Snell pitched three scoreless innings, allowing one hit and whiffing three, for Puerto Rico in a tune-up against the Twins. Utility man Ramon Vazquez went 1-for-4. And Dave Davidson pitched a scoreless ninth inning for Canada to pick up the save against the Blue Jays. He struck out one.
* The dope on Jose Tabata's achy shoulder: he has mild rotator cuff inflammation, but no structural damage. He won't throw for a week to let it settle, and play it by ear from there.
* Rob Biertempfel of the Tribune Review announced that the Pirates signed a handful of their pre-arbitration players today.
They are RHP Craig Hansen, who will make $825,000 after making $700,000 in 2008; LHP Sean Burnett will take home $408,500 after earning $390,000 last year; RHP Jimmy Barthmaier signed for $400,500; and third baseman Neil Walker, LHP Donnie Veal and catcher Steve Lerud got the MLB minimum of $400,000. If they don't play in the majors, they'll make $32,500. It's a tough life in the bushes.
* Nate McLouth has a Q&A session with Matt Crossman at The Sporting News today. Among other things, he said "If our pitching starts stepping it up, there's no saying what we could do."
* John Perrotto of Pirate Report has a piece on hopeful Steve Pearce, trying to win a spot against a boatload of OF/1B types brought into camp this year.
* Tim Dierkes of MLB Trade Rumors picked the worst 45 contracts in baseball - and hey, ex-Buccos inked three of the top dozen. They're Gary Matthews, Jr., Jeff Suppan, and Jason Schmidt. Jose Guillen's deal is in the mix, too.