Daily Distractions: Having some fun at the Pittsburgh Pirates’ expense.

Full disclosure: I picked the Pittsburgh Pirates to finish third, ahead of St. Louis and Chicago, in the National League Central this year. Can’t take it back. It happened.

One week later, I found myself using the quality of the Dodgers’ weekend opponent as some sort of asterisk in a game story after the Bucs were swept out of Dodger Stadium. That’s what happens when you can recite stats like these:

Six games into the season, NL pitchers are hitting .138/.180/.198. The Pirates are hitting .119/.188/.159.

— YCPB (@cantpredictball) April 8, 2013

Adding to the Pirates’ woes: One local paper can’t even spell the name of their star player correctly (h/t @whygavs):

AndrewxMcCutchenHappy Monday, Mr. McCutcheon. Onto the bullet points:

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Tony Gwynn Jr. among Dodgers’ cuts.

Tony  Gwynn Jr.Tony Gwynn Jr. accepted an assignment to the Dodgers’ minor-league camp, catcher Ramon Castro was released and catcher Wilkin Castillo was re-assigned to the minor-league side Monday. The Dodgers have 43 players in camp.

Gwynn’s standing on the Dodgers’ depth chart has only fallen since he was designated for assignment and sent to Triple-A Albuquerque late last season. The Dodgers acquired Skip Schumaker for outfield depth over the winter and have seen Yasiel Puig emerge as an option at the major-league level, if not by Opening Day then maybe sometime this year. Matt Kemp and Carl Crawford have made steady progress in their recovery from shoulder and elbow surgery, respectively. Both could be ready for Opening Day, certainly Kemp and maybe Crawford.

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Dodgers spring training preview: Catchers.

A.J. EllisA.J. Ellis is back for his second year as the Dodgers’ starter, and hopes to be fully recovered from arthroscopic surgery on his left knee in October. Matt Treanor is gone after one year as the backup. The Dodgers will go in a different direction by giving rookie Tim Federowicz the first crack at the backup job – a small but notably different direction from recent years, when veterans like Treanor, Dioner Navarro, Brad Ausmus, Mike Lieberthal and Sandy Alomar held the role.

The four non-roster invitees in this group are an interesting collection of characters, some with checkered pasts. Can you say “Real World: Camelback Ranch”?

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