After the first few games at camp, the players look like they came to Bradenton ready to play. The positional rundown to date:
Outfield: Andrew McCutchen is off to a scorching start, and Lastings Milledge and Garrett Jones look ready to hold on to their positions. Ryan Church has been more than solid. Brandon Moss, 100% healthy, isn't ready to concede his roster spot. John Raynor and Jose Tabata are keeping themselves in the mix. Gorkys Hernandez hasn't shown anything, Brandon Jones remains a mystery man, and Delwyn Young has taken all his reps and innings at second base.
Starters: So who can tell with a two-inning limit and just once around the rotation to date? All the guys kept the ball down, and except for Charlie Morton and Kevin Hart, in the strike zone.
Fifth Starter: Daniel McCutchen and Kevin Hart weren't very sharp in their first outings. They're keeping Brad Lincoln in the race for that final spot, although both 2009 holdovers would have to go down in flames for Lincoln to have his MLB clock started in April.
Bullpen: Lookin' good, except for Steve Jackson and Virgil Vasquez. Jack Taschner has been a pleasant surprise, striking out five of the six batters that he's faced. Still, it's awfully thin until Octavio Dotel and Joel Hanrahan come back from injuries; both are supposed to be ready before camp ends. Until then, we won't find out if Dotel is the next Jose Mesa - or Solly Torres.
Shortstop: Ronny Cedeno continues to look like, well, Ronny Cedeno. Bobby Crosby has been solid in the field and at bat, but it is still Cedeno's job to lose, so say the suits (although GW has no idea why the spot isn't an open competition).
First Base: Jeff Clement has been making all the routine plays and making contact; so far, so good with the experiment.
Second Base: Aki Iwamura has been steady; he's shown the patience to hit in the two hole though he hasn't shown that he's a pull hitter who can take advantage of the second base hole yet. Range at second hasn't been great, but it's early and he does have a brace on his knee, so that will bear watching.
Third Base: Andy LaRoche is sharp so far; finding a place for him when Pedro comes up should be a Pirate priority.
Catcher: Ryan Doumit owns the spot. But Eric Kratz has been the camp surprise with his stick, and Tony Sanchez has lived up to his top gun selection in last year's draft. Jason Jaramillo hasn't gotten much work, and while we think he's set as a back-up, he'd be wise to pick it up with Kratz making some noise.
Bench: Way too early to speculate; the Bucs have several options and configurations available to them.
So it's been a good couple of weeks at camp so far; most players look up to the challenge. But there are still miles to go...