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Lobstein tabbed to start spring opener

Pirates visit Lakeland, Fla., on Tuesday to take on the Tigers
MLB.com

BRADENTON, Fla. -- The Pirates are three days away from the start of their Grapefruit League schedule, but they have found ways to remain competitive in the meantime.

Pittsburgh's big league camp will migrate across town following Sunday's workout, moving from the Pirate City complex to McKechnie Field for the annual Black & Gold intrasquad game. The Pirates will begin their exhibition slate on Tuesday against the Tigers.

BRADENTON, Fla. -- The Pirates are three days away from the start of their Grapefruit League schedule, but they have found ways to remain competitive in the meantime.

Pittsburgh's big league camp will migrate across town following Sunday's workout, moving from the Pirate City complex to McKechnie Field for the annual Black & Gold intrasquad game. The Pirates will begin their exhibition slate on Tuesday against the Tigers.

The last week -- or longer, for some players who reported early -- has been full of morning batting practice, bullpen sessions, fundamental drills and conditioning. To keep things interesting, the Pirates also implemented several games and challenges within their drills.

Tweet from @Pirates: Warming up.#PiratesST pic.twitter.com/1fCYFCAL1K

"There's competition going on right now with the [hitters'] execution game, from an offensive standpoint," manager Clint Hurdle said. "There's competition with the rag ball from the pitchers' fielding. There's competition with the pitchers hitting, their execution game and their bunting. There's all kinds of statistical things we're keeping track of, keeping them building forward to just keep them aware of the surroundings and aware of what the group's doing, what the expectations are.

"It is important, I think, and we're going to have more things in front of us along with the games coming. We're going to continue to build those bridges throughout the game competition as well. We talked about focus early in the spring, and that's one of the ways we're going to try to keep it."

Around the horn
• Hurdle announced the Pirates' pitching schedule for the first two Grapefruit League games, both against the Tigers.

Slated to pitch on Tuesday at Joker Marchant Stadium in Lakeland, Fla.: left-hander Kyle Lobstein (a former Tiger), followed by right-handers Wilfredo Boscan, Neftali Feliz, Curtis Partch, Rob Scahill and Trey Haley.

Scheduled to pitch Wednesday at McKechnie Field, the Spring Training home opener: left-hander Jeff Locke, followed by right-handers Juan Nicasio, Jared Hughes and Arquimedes Caminero, lefty Eric O'Flaherty and righty Jorge Rondon.

Video: PIT@COL: Locke strikes out Rosario to end the 3rd

• Hurdle hopes to have University of Michigan football coach Jim Harbaugh speak to the club at some point. Hurdle is a Michigan fan, and the Wolverines are working out at nearby IMG Academy for spring practice. Hurdle and Pittsburgh's coaches met with Harbaugh in Detroit last season.

"The perspective's fresh," Hurdle said. "The creativity's real. The enthusiasm, he drips with it. I think there'd be some value to it if we can get him in."

• Hurdle noted that third baseman Jung Ho Kang is "ahead of the schedule that we had set out" for him in his recovery from September surgery on his left leg. That falls in line with the club's previous comments about Kang being more likely to return in April than May, as his initial estimated recovery time was six to eight months.

Adam Berry is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter at @adamdberry.

Pittsburgh Pirates, Kyle Lobstein