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Pirate Care-A-Van Coming to OV

(AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar) The Pirate Care-A-Van will be in Wheeling and Weirton on Thursday. Josh Bell will be one of the players featured in the delegation.

WHEELING — Spring training is just around the corner for Major League Baseball teams.

Of local interest, the Pittsburgh Pirates open camp in Bradenton, Fla. Feb. 12 for pitchers and catchers. The entire team reports Feb. 17.

The Pirates will have a fresh new leadership look this season.

Derek Shelton is the team’s manager. Ben Cherington, meanwhile, is the Buccos’ new general manager.

Local Pirate fans can get an close-up and early look at the 2020 Buccos this Thursday as the Pirate Care-A-Van will be in Wheeling and Weirton. Featured in the Pirates’ delegation will be Josh Bell, Sam Howard, Clay Holmes, assistant coach Tarrik Brock and Shelton.

Thursday’s complete schedule is as follows:

∫ Weirton Elementary School baseball clinic (11:45 a.m. – 1 p.m.). It is being staged in partnership with the Weirton Baseball Association.

∫ Wheeling — Miracle League of the Ohio Valley Fantasy Camp (2-3:30 p.m.) It will take place at the J.B. Chambers YMCA. In partnership with volunteers from Bordas & Bordas, the Pirates will host the Miracle League camp for 40 athletes from the Miracle League of the Ohio Valley.

Participants will rotate between stations staffed by volunteers alongside Pirates players and coaches, and Bordas & Bordas employees will serve as buddies for the Miracle League athletes.

∫ Wheeling — Laughlin Memorial Chapel’s youth baseball clinic (4- 5 p.m.) It will take place at the J.B. Chambers Memorial Branch YMCA. The clinic will feature Pirates celebrities, leading baseball drills. Wheeling Police Department officers will be volunteering at the event.

Shelton, 49, was the Minnesota Twins’ bench coach for the past two seasons. Prior to that, he was the Blue Jays quality control coach for a year and from 2010-16 he was the Rays’ hitting coach.

Before that, he was the Cleveland Indians’ hitting coach from 2005-09. He was a minor-league catcher in the Yankees’ organization in 1992-93.

Shelton has named Don Kelly, 39, as his bench coach. He is a Mount Lebanon native.

Cherington served in that same capacity for the Boston Red Sox when they won the 2013 World Series.

Cherington, 45, served as a baseball operations assistant and director of player development, among other jobs, from 1999-2005 for Boston.

Bell is coming off a monster season at the plate. The hard-hitting first baseman slammed 37 home runs while knocking in 116 runs in 2019. He batted .277.

Howard and Holmes are both promising 26-year-old hurlers. Howard sports a 2-0 MLB record while Holmes is 2-5.

Brock is be the Buccos’ first base coach this season.

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