Tuesday 12 Qs: Submit entries now! 19

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Kris Letang is out of the Penguins’ lineup indefinitely because of a concussion. — GETTY

BY DEJAN KOVACEVIC

Welcome to Tuesday 12 Qs, our chat that takes place each week at 9 a.m. and offers readers a chance to carry the conversation.

The format is simple: Use the comments below to submit an entry, as soon as this post goes up. I’ll choose from some of those early entries, then add the rest when the session goes live.

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All topics are on the table, as always.

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Perrotto on the scene: ‘We wrestled with it’ 9

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Vance Worley struck out 11 and walked one in 17 Grapefruit League innings. — GETTY

BY JOHN PERROTTO

BRADENTON, Fla. — Sights, sounds and the scene at McKechnie Field …

• The dullest of spring trainings for the Pirates got livelier today, and it had nothing to do with an 18-4 rout of the Phillies: Clint Hurdle announced following the final out that Jeff Locke would begin the season as the fifth starter and Vance Worley would pitch in relief.

No one saw this decision coming.

Not the scouts from other teams who have watched the Pirates throughout the spring. Not the media members who are with the team every day. Not even the other members of the pitching staff.

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News/views: Pirates choose … Locke? 45

BY DEJAN KOVACEVIC

News: The Pirates will open the season with Jeff Locke in the rotation and Vance Worley in the bullpen, Clint Hurdle just told reporters in Bradenton, Fla. Locke will be fifth on the depth chart.

Views: OK, and … why?

Neither was all that strong in Grapefruit League exhibitions, each charged with 10 earned runs, Locke’s over 13 2/3 innings, Worley’s over 17. But there hadn’t been any debate, including internally, that Worley was generally pitching with more poise and more command. So it couldn’t have been spring performance.

Worley also has been better than Locke in the career context, albeit not by a ton.

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Video podcast: Hockey, hoops on ‘Showdown’ 0

BY DEJAN KOVACEVIC

Here’s the opening segment of KDKA-TV’s ‘Sports Showdown’ last night, this on the Penguins’ run-up to the playoffs. Individually, here are parts 1, 2, 3 and 4, also covering college basketball.

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Column: These Penguins are worth it, no? 90

San Jose Sharks v Pittsburgh Penguins

Sidney Crosby celebrates his shootout goal with teammates on the bench Sunday at Consol. — GETTY

BY DEJAN KOVACEVIC

For four excruciating minutes of overtime Sunday night, the Penguins’ most skilled forwards were relegated to the same status as the standing, roaring 18,620 citizens surrounding them at Consol Energy Center.

“We were fans,” Sidney Crosby was telling me a lot later. “Oh, man, we were fired up.”

“Same here,” David Perron chimed in from the next stall. “We couldn’t wait to get out there.”

It sure didn’t look like they would, did it?

It was early in overtime, and Patric Hornqvist drew blood on a high-sticking double-minor against the Sharks’ Brent Burns. The two had been battling along the boards, the blade came up, and enough blood emerged to draw the call. Hornqvist blew it and knew it: “I went right to the box.”

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Pirates 18, Phillies 4 37

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BY DEJAN KOVACEVIC

Getting ready for first pitch …

Game: Pirates vs. Philadelphia Phillies, exhibition, 1:05 p.m., McKechnie Field, Bradenton, Fla.

Pitchers: RHP Mark Melancon vs. RHP Zach Eflin

Radio: MLB.com

Online: Gameday / Multimedia / Official game notes

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Monday planner: I went back to Ohio 25

BY DEJAN KOVACEVIC

A look at the week ahead on the site …

Monday: After Penguins-Sharks coverage goes up in the morning, I’ll post the video podcast of last nights ‘Sports Showdown’ on KDKA-TV, then the latest entry from John Perrotto in Bradenton.

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Tuesday: Tuesday 12 Qs occurs at 9 a.m. Later in the morning, I’ll cover the Penguins’ practice at Consol. The spring training entries from Bradenton will continue coming daily.

Wednesday: Column advancing Penguins-Flyers in the morning. At 5:30 p.m., I’ll make my weekly appearance on 105.9 the X with Mark Madden., this time at Blue Line Grille. Then, faceoff and another column from Consol.

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Perrotto on the scene: Polanco gets groove 24

Pittsburgh Pirates v Toronto Blue Jays

Gregory Polanco is 6 for 19 with two home runs in his past six Grapefruit League games. — GETTY

BY JOHN PERROTTO

BRADENTON, Fla. — Sights, sounds and the scene at McKechnie Field …

Gregory Polanco seemed in danger of setting the Grapefruit League single-season record for grounding out to the second baseman. The Pirates’ left-handed-hitting right fielder kept rolling over pitch after pitch through his first 13 games.

However, Polanco has started driving the ball in the past few days. He hit a home run Friday against the Twins at Fort Myers and another Saturday off Blue Jays veteran left-hander Randy Wolf at McKechnie Field. Over his past six games, he is 6 for 19 with at least one hit in each.

For Polanco, it has just been a matter of getting back into the swing of things. The Pirates asked him not to play winter ball in his native Dominican Republic after he made his major-league debut last season and struggled in 89 games, hitting .235 with seven home runs and 14 stolen bases.

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Penguins 3, Sharks 2, SO 83

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BY DEJAN KOVACEVIC

Getting ready for faceoff …

Game: Penguins (40-23-11) vs. San Jose Sharks (36-30-8), 7:38 p.m., Consol Energy Center

Goaltenders: Marc-Andre Fleury (32-17-8, 2.27) vs. Alex Stalock (7-7-2, 2.55)

TV, radio: Root Sports (local), NBC Sports (national), 105.9 the X

Online: GameCenter / Multimedia / Official game notes

UPDATE 6:55 p.m.: The Penguins are expected to scratch Kris Letang (concussion) and Christian Ehrhoff (upper body) and play with 11 forwards and five defensemen. But the good news is that David Perron, considered iffy because of an illness, just took the ice for warmups.

7:25 p.m.: And it’s official: Perron is in.

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News/views: Letang concussed, Doan cleared 77

BY DEJAN KOVACEVIC

News: Kris Letang has a concussion, the Penguins confirmed through Mike Johnston this morning at Consol, and will be evaluated the next few days before any timetable for a return can be set.

Views: Yeah, again. And with Stanley Cup playoffs beginning April 15, a little more than two weeks.

Complicating matters, at least for the short term, is that the extraordinary cap push combined with the lack of a long-term injured reserve this time of year, has the Penguins playing a man or two short on a fairly regular basis. With David Perron’s illness having him doubtful for tonight against the Sharks, per Johnston, that could mean two down.

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