First Call: Ex-Pirate flirts with perfect game; David Bednar named a top trade candidate; Steelers linked to free agent tackle

Friday’s “First Call” has a free agent connection to the Steelers. The NFL is shelving covid-19 testing. An ex-Pirate pitcher turned in a fantastic effort Thursday.

And is David Bednar destined to be traded off the Pirates roster?

Going “Fishing”? published a list of the top 10 remaining free agents in the NFL, paired with potential destinations. And they don’t have ex-Tampa Bay Buccaneer Ndamukong Suh going to Pittsburgh.

That’s despite some recent local chatter that had Suh coming here because of Stephon Tuitt’s retirement.

Instead, they have New Orleans as the best fit for Suh.

The website did link Colts offensive tackle Eric Fisher to the Steelers, though.

“Fisher didn’t play his best football for the Colts last season after coming back from an Achilles injury suffered during the 2020 playoffs while with the Chiefs,” writer Matt Bowen said. “But if we are looking at this as a depth/competition move, Pittsburgh could be in the mix here as a possible landing spot for Fisher. The Steelers have to continue to upgrade their (offensive) line after already signing center Mason Cole and guard James Daniels in free agency.”

I doubt the Steelers will go in this direction. If they thought tackle was a problem, they would’ve addressed it by now, and they don’t seem very concerned with Chuks Okorafor and Dan Moore Jr. already starting at tackles.

I am. They aren’t.

almost perfect

Former Pirates pitcher Jameson Taillon threw seven perfect innings for the New York Yankees against the Anaheim Angels Thursday night.

But he went to the bench losing 1-0 after eight innings. That’s because Anaheim’s Jared Walsh ended the perfect game bid in the eighth with a double that actually went off the glove of one of the Yankees infielders.

Kurt Suzuki then drove in Walsh for the first run of the game. However, the Yankees got a two-run single from Anthony Rizzo to grab the lead 2-1 in the bottom of the inning.

Another ex-Pirate, Clay Holmes, came on to get the save in the ninth to end the game. It was his seventh.

With the win, Taillon improved to 6-1. He ended up allowing just the one run and two hits in eight innings. He totaled five strikeouts and didn’t walk anybody. Taillon tossed 101 pitches and his ERA dropped to 2.30 on the season.

Bednar on trade bubble

Since David Bednar went to Mars Area High School, he probably knows how this works.

Once you get good playing for the Pirates, it’s only a matter of time before you get caught up in trade talks.

Well, that’s happening to Bednar now. He’s pitching well enough to be an All-Star. And he may pitch well enough to find himself traded to a title contender.

In 21 outings this year, Bednar is 2-1 with a 1.38 ERA and nine saves. He has 35 strikeouts and five walks. And according to’s RJ, Anderson, Bednar is one of the 10 most likely players to be traded before the Aug. 2 deadlines.

“The Pirates are rarely under the national microscope (for good reasons, anyway), so you can be forgiven if you hadn’t noticed that he’s sporting a 1.97 ERA and a 4.67 strikeout-to-walk ratio in 82 appearances with the Pirates dating back to last season,” Anderson said. “Our belief is that bad teams aren’t aggressive enough when it comes to moving their good relievers. In this case, it’s true that Bednar won’t qualify for arbitration for another year, but it’s unrealistic to expect him to be part of the Pirates’ next playoff team. (Heck, the attrition rate on relievers is such that he might not be part of the Pirates’ next mediocre team.) Trading him for someone who might be, then, should be in play earlier than seems necessary.”

Anderson said every postseason contender could have some level of interest in Bednar.

Former Pirate Josh Bell also makes the list. The Washington first baseman is hitting .305 with an .802 OPS. Anderson lists the Red Sox, Twins and Giants as candidates that may want to acquire Bell’s services.

Passing on the tests

The NFL will not reboot its covid-19 testing program when the 2022 season starts. That’s according to’s Tom Pelissero.

Via ProFootballTalk, the “NFL Management Council told teams Thursday that covid surveillance testing of players and staff no longer is required, regardless of an individual’s vaccination status.”

Players can now ditch those devices to monitor their contacts at team facilities, and limits on weight rooms and other gathering spaces have been removed.

Teams will be permitted to require players and staff to stay in the team hotel for training camp and can hold training camp at alternate locations without approval.

The Steelers are one of those teams. They are planning a return to Saint Vincent College this year.

Tim Benz is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Tim at or via Twitter. All tweets could be reposted. All emails are subject to publication unless specified otherwise.

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