BRADENTON, Fla. -- One of Spring Training's formalities the morning of the first full-squad workout is a full-squad meeting giving the general manager a rare chance to address the team.
Neal Huntington did so on Friday morning, talking to the assembled about "how we plan for things to play out."
"I try not to make a big deal of it," Huntington said of the opportunity to stand in front of 60 players. "It's a chance to share some thoughts, plans and expectations, and to communicate some messages about things they need to get done and things we can do to help them."
Manager Clint Hurdle also took a turn, wasting no time bringing up the collapse of last season (and of the season prior) in a constructive context.
"We want to work hard to get better every day," Hurdle said, paraphrasing his message to the players, "to make sure that when we get to the challenging point of the season, we control the grind and not get caught up in it.
"We have to become extraordinary at the ordinary. We want to make sure we're all playing for a cause greater than any individual. It's a game of individual responsibility, but toward a collective gain."
And with that, the Bucs dispersed across Pirate City's four fields, with the exception of utility man Brandon Inge, who was completing his drive from Michigan, and right-hander Stolmy Pimentel, whose departure from the Dominican Republic had been delayed by visa issues. Both are expected in camp for Saturday's workouts.
Karstens' just one of many creative contracts
BRADENTON, Fla. -- General manager Neal Huntington showed his negotiating creativity in drawing up the contract that got left-hander Francisco Liriano in the fold after he'd broken his right arm, making the most of a $12.75 million package (including an option for 2014) that is dependent on Liriano staying off the disabled list with that specific injury.
Huntington has been similarly creative in drawing up terms for some other players with specific areas of concern.
• Right-hander Jeff Karstens, who had been projected to get a salary of $3.8 million through arbitration, was instead nontendered because injuries limited him to 90 2/3 innings in 2012. Karstens was eventually re-signed for a guaranteed $2.5 million, but he can earn another $1 million if he stays healthy enough to pitch 200 innings.
Karstens would get bonuses of $100,000 at 150 and 160 innings pitched, $175,000 at 170 and 180 innings, and $225,000 at 190 and 200 innings.
• First baseman Gaby Sanchez is the only one of the four Pirates who went through the arbitration process to settle for a contract ($1,750,000) that includes incentives for plate appearances at 425, 475 and 525, with a bonus of $25,000 at each stage.
• Left-hander Jonathan Sanchez signed a Minor League contract that would pay him $1,375,000 if he makes the Bucs. In addition, he could earn up to another $750,000 in bonuses based on a complex points system based on appearances (three points) of two-plus innings (two points) or of fewer than two innings (one point).
Sanchez would earn $75,000 for 42, 48 and 54 points; $125,000 for 60, 66 and 72 points; and $150,000 for 78 points.
In addition, the southpaw, in camp as a non-roster invitee, can request his release on March 24 if he has not been added to the Major League roster by then.
• The contract of non-roster outfielder Brad Hawpe calls for a moderate $800,000 if he makes the Majors but includes a $600,000 incentive package for plate appearances, kicking in at 200 and maxing out at 500.
Hawpe, too, can request his release if not added to the big league roster, by March 26 in his case.
"I can't answer that. I'm not a brain scientist -- or a rocket surgeon." -- reliever Jared Hughes -- with a wink, to show he mangled the words intentionally -- in response to the hypothetical question of how his slider would break if he submarined it
• Other than pitchers Charlie Morton, working toward a midseason return from Tommy John surgery, and Francisco Liriano, the only Pirates player who began Spring Training on health-watch is second baseman Neil Walker, laid out by a herniated disk at the end of the season. Manager Clint Hurdle succinctly called off the watch following Friday's first full-squad workout: "His back is not an issue. The [rehab] work he was able to put in and the reports we got from our own people watching him [show us that] he's physically fit for duty and ready to go."
• Jose Tabata is the forgotten man in the outfield, but after following orders to skip winter league play and focus on conditioning, he looks lean and mean, and the ball was jumping off his bat out of the batting cage.
"We're extremely encouraged by what he's done in the offseason and what he did to prepare [for Spring Training]," Hurdle said. "He worked on a number of things to get that body back to where we saw it in 2010, and on strength and flexibility and intensity."
• Pitching may win games, but the sticks win popularity contests: The first workout featuring a full complement of position players drew a shoulder-to-shoulder crowd at Pirate City compared with the handful of fans who'd been attracted by three days of batterymen workouts.
Tom Singer is a reporter for MLB.com and writes an MLBlog Change for a Nickel. He can also be found on Twitter @Tom_Singer. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.