MLB Insiders: Pittsburgh Pirates

The Pirates have only one player eligible for salary arbitration, and it is expected they will strike a deal with left-hander Zach Duke without having to go to a hearing.

Duke filed for arbitration, but he and the Pirates are reportedly working on a one-year contract that likely would be worth $4.5 million to $5 million. Duke made $2.2 million last season when he was selected to the All-Star Game for the first time in his five-year career. He went 11-16 with a 4.06 ERA in 32 starts.

The Pirates had second thoughts about committing to Duke for the long term after the 26-year-old went 3-8 with a 5.17 ERA in 14 starts after the All-Star break.

Duke's 16 losses also led the National League, dropping his career record to 37-55.

Duke is one of four pitchers who are all but assured of spots in the rotation this season, along with left-hander Paul Maholm and right-handers Charlie Morton and Ross Ohlendorf. Right-handers Kevin Hart and Daniel McCutchen will compete for the fifth and final spot during spring training.


--The Pirates' annual minicamp will be anything but "mini." A total of 42 players, including 29 pitchers, will attend the four-day event that begins Jan. 10 at the Pirates' spring training facility in Bradenton, Fla. All 18 pitchers on the 40-man roster will take part.

--RHP Tyler Yates, who will miss the beginning of the season after undergoing Tommy John surgery on his pitching elbow last July, was re-signed to a minor league contract. Yates, 32, was 0-2 with a 7.50 ERA in 15 relief appearances with the Pirates last season before being injured. He was invited to major league spring training.

--LHP Neal Cotts and RHP Brian Burres were signed to minor league contracts and invited to major league spring training. Cotts, 29, underwent Tommy John surgery last July after going 0-2 with a 7.36 ERA in 19 relief appearance for the Cubs and 1-1 with one save and a 2.84 ERA in 12 games with Class AAA Iowa. Burres, 28, was 0-2 with a 14.21 ERA in two starts with Toronto and 6-7 with a 4.76 ERA in 19 games, 17 starts, for Class AAA Las Vegas.

--Anthony Telford, who pitched in the major leagues for nine seasons, was hired to fill the newly created position of personal development coordinator. He will be responsible for helping players develop off the field as well as on. Telford pitched for nine seasons with Baltimore (1990-91, 1993), Montreal (1997-2001) and Texas (2002), and was most recently the pitching coach for Aiken in the independent South Coast League.

--Bernie Holliday, who has a Ph.D. in sports psychology and spent the last six years working at the United States Military Academy, was hired as mental conditioning coordinator. He replaces Geoff Miller, whose contract was not renewed.

--Jim Benedict, who spent last season as a special assistant to general manager Neal Huntington, replaces Troy Buckley as the minor league pitching coordinator. Benedict held the same role with the Expos (1994-98) and the Dodgers (1999-2000) before becoming a scout. Buckley returned to his old job as the pitching coach at Cal State Fullerton at the end of last season.

--Steve Lombardozzi, who was the second baseman on Minnesota's World Series winner in 1987 but has never coached professionally, was hired as minor league infield coordinator to replace Carlos Garcia, who was promoted to the major league coaching staff. The rest of the coordinators were retained for 2010: Jeff Banister (field), Gregg Ritchie (hitting), Kimera Bartee (outfielder/baserunning) and Euclides Rojas (Latin American field).

BY THE NUMBERS: 42 -- INF Brian Bixler's strikeouts through 140 at-bats in the Mexican Pacific League this winter. He has struck out 62 times in 152 at-bats during his major league career.

QUOTE TO NOTE: "My resolution is to just be better than last year." -- CF Andrew McCutchen, to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, on his 2010 New Year's resolution after hitting .286 with 12 home runs, 54 RBIs and 22 stolen bases in 108 games as a rookie last year. Recommended Stories

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