Freese appears to be on his way out


PITTSBURGH — Buster Olney, who reports for ESPN and knows his stuff, says the New York Yankees have an interest in David Freese.

The Pirates might well have an interest in having Freese in pinstripes.

Freese opened spring training with a calculated rant against the organization and manager Clint Hurdle. Is that the kind of thing Hurdle and Freese can work out, or is it better to find Freese a new home? After all, he’s slated to be a part-time player with the Pirates and he’s soon to turn 35.

Maybe that was the ultimate aim of the camp-opening rant, which seemed to be very pre-meditated.

There’s another potential factor at work, too. Do the Pirates want Freese to be introduced on opening day and get a big reaction from fans who share his views after two losing seasons?

You get the feeling that Freese would be happier elsewhere and that the Pirates would be just as happy to see him with a new zip code.

The Pirates open the season on March 29. It will be an upset if Freese is on the roster then.

Tear it down

The University of Louisville found out that it is being stripped of the 2013 men’s basketball championship, their penalty for NCAA violations.

So does this mean Michigan, which lost the championship game, gets the title? Crank up the parade, Wolverines.

What it means mostly is a janitor will probably take down the championship banner one day and most people won’t notice that it’s missing.

That seems to violate the spirit of the penalty. Bring back (hopefully disgraced) former coach Rick Pitino and have him work the pulleys to lower the banner from the rafters.

Have Pitino come out with a chorus line of hired escorts, since using their services to ply recruits is part of what got Louisville in such big trouble.

Make it a party. The University can sell a special VIP package to the boosters who allowed that corrupt culture to develop.

One more thing: Raffle off the banner. Does $500 per ticket sound about right?

Bad sign

The MLB free agent market has been operating at a glacial pace.

There was a break the other day when the San Diego Padres signed first baseman Eric Hosmer for eight years and $144 million. There is an opt-out clause after five years.

Hosmer is a fine player, a power hitter who also excels defensively. He’s also widely recognized as a solid citizen and a positive clubhouse presence.

This signing at this amount would make perfect sense if Hosmer were 24. But he’s 28. He’ll be 33 when the opt-out clause kicks in (and he controls that). So he could be on the books for three more years beyond the first five.

The Padres have front-loaded the contract so Hosmer gets less in the final years, a hedge against decline that’s probably inevitable.

The Padres had a 71-91 record last season and were never a factor in the division and wild card races. They have some good young talent and could be on the upswing.

But unless the Padres expect to contend immediately, this signing doesn’t make a lot of sense.

Mehno can be reached at johnmehnocolumn@gmail.com.