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Moving and shaking in the Burgh

Commentary

March 27, 2013
The Altoona Mirror

PITTSBURGH -Midweek views on the news:

n The Pittsburgh Steelers tell James Harrison they don't want him back.

The Steelers were willing to keep Harrison at a reduced salary, which he rejected. He was willing to reconsider after he found scant interest in the free agent market.

That surprises me, because I thought several teams would be interested in Harrison as a one-year addition. Must have surprised Harrison, too, or he would have given more serious consideration to the Steelers' offer.

The bad on Harrison is he's 35 with a significant injury history. He's also limited to teams that play a four-linebacker defense and need help at the outside spot. He wasn't very good for much of last season as he had injury recovery issues, but he was playing better by the end of the season.

Hard to believe there isn't somebody willing to take a look at him.

If taking a pay cut was a blow to his pride, imagine what effect the lack of interest is having.

n Pitt signed basketball coach Jamie Dixon to a 10-year extension.

To think there were some people who thought Dixon was in danger of being fired after the Panthers' horrendous showing in the NCAA Tournament.

Instead, he's signed through 2023. Actually, that's more symbolic than anything else. If either side decides they want to end the relationship, it will happen, albeit with lawyers involved.

Dixon's critics point to his postseason failures, and they have plenty of ammunition. Pitt points to the overall improvement in the program, which now expects to qualify for the NCAA Tournament every year.

Dixon has a full plate with next year's switch to the ACC. Now he has even more job security as he tackles that challenge.

n Jonathan Sanchez makes the Pittsburgh Pirates' starting rotation.

Sanchez is a non-roster invitee who fits a familiar profile: A once-promising player who has fallen on hard times recently and is looking for a chance to re-establish himself.

There's nothing wrong with that, fundamentally. All teams take chances on reclamation projects.

But the Pirates' rotation looks very questionable beyond A.J. Burnett and Wandy Rodriguez. There's the enigma of James McDonald's split 2012 season, and a whole bunch of question marks.

Even the pitchers lined up behind those who open the season in the rotation - Francisco Liriano, Charlie Morton and Gerrit Cole - have a lot to prove.

Contest time

The annual contest to guess how many games the Pirates will win opens today at my blog, "Mainly Mehno" on the altoonamirror.com website.

Check my blog for details on how to enter.

Mehno can be reached at johnmehnocolumn@gmail.com

 
 

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