In Friday’s “First Call,” new Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Russell Wilson is getting back to his baseball roots. Paul Skenes makes another minor league start. A local pitcher is tearing up the American League in Oakland, and we preview this weekend’s Pirates-Red Sox series at PNC Park.

Russ is with us

New Steelers quarterback Russell Wilson is certainly making the rounds in Pittsburgh. He showed up with his wife, Ciara, former Steelers Troy Polamalu and Brett Keisel, and Pitt Panther alum Damar Hamlin at a Penguins game on April 13.

Now Wilson is going to be throwing out the first pitch at PNC Park in advance of Friday night’s Pirates game against the Boston Red Sox.

Wilson was a minor league infielder in the Colorado Rockies system in 2010 and 2011. He was also with the Texas Rangers for a pair of spring training appearances in 2014 and 2015. He even appeared in a spring training game (pinch-hitting for Aaron Judge) with the New York Yankees against the Atlanta Braves.

Now let’s see if Wilson avoids the middle of the plate like he avoids the middle of the field and if he checks down by throwing over to first base before delivering the pitch.

Relax! I’m kidding! It’s just a joke.


Skenes is keen

The Pirates top pitching prospect had another eye-catching night in Triple-A. Paul Skenes racked up eight strikeouts over 3⅓ innings as the Indianapolis Indians beat the St. Paul Saints, 6-5.

Skenes gave up a hit and two walks but didn’t allow a run. The No. 1 overall pick has yet to allow a run this year. He threw a season-high 65 pitches, a slight increase from his 55 last time out at Toledo on April 12.

Via, the former LSU Tiger averaged 100.5 mph on his fastball and threw 100+ with 34 of his 43 total four-seamers, reaching as high as 102.1. The 6-foot-6 right-hander has fanned 27 of 47 batters this year, (57.4%). He’s sporting a 0.71 WHIP.

Jake Lamb had two more hits. He’s hitting .366.

Back at it

The Pirates (11-8, third place National League Central) get back to action at home this weekend after a much-needed day off. Derek Shelton’s group is looking to bounce back after a sweep at the hands of the New York Mets.

The Boston Red Sox are in town for a three-game series starting Friday. They aren’t exactly on fire either, having lost three of four at home to the Cleveland Guardians. At 10-10, Boston comes to town in last place in the American League East, 3½ back of the first-place New York Yankees (13-6).

Outfielder Tyler O’Neil was placed on the seven-day concussion injury list Thursday. He suffered the injury Monday when he collided with Rafael Devers while trying to catch a fly ball.

O’Neill has seven home runs on the season, trailing only Mike Trout (LAA) and Marcell Ozuna (Atlanta) with eight apiece. Outfielder Jarren Duran has 25 hits, fourth most in the American League.

As a team, the Red Sox have a collective 2.70 ERA. That’s the best in baseball. The staff’s strikeout total of 189 is the best in MLB as well, and the opponent batting average of just .224 is sixth. The Pirates are eighth at .228.

At the plate, the Sox have 25 home runs. Only the Baltimore Orioles (30) and Los Angeles Dodgers (26) have more.

In the field, the Red Sox have yielded 25 unearned runs on the year and have committed 20 errors — the most in MLB.

The Pirates plan to pitch Quinn Priester (MLB season debut), Mitch Keller (2-1, 4.50 ERA) and Martin Perez (1-0, 2.55). The Red Sox counter with Brayan Bello (2-1, 3.92) on Friday and Kutter Crawford (0-0, 0.42) on Saturday. Sunday’s starter is yet to be named.

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Miller time

Pittsburgh’s Mason Miller continues to be one of the best performers in baseball this year.

On Wednesday, the Bethel Park native converted his fourth save for the Oakland Athletics. The former Waynesburg Yellow Jacket hasn’t allowed a run over his past six outings and has given up just three total hits and three walks.

Meanwhile, he has 17 strikeouts on the season.

Miller made his MLB debut last year. He was a starter but moved to the bullpen after an elbow injury. Oakland is 8-11, fourth in the AL West.

Cool with Courtland

The Denver Broncos don’t seem concerned about Courtland Sutton’s absence from voluntary workouts.

The wide receiver wants a new contract. He has two years left on a four-year, $60 million extension he signed during the 2021 season. Only $2 million of guaranteed money remains in the current agreement.

If Sutton wants out of Denver, we’ve wondered if Pittsburgh might be a logical fit. After all, the Steelers need a wide receiver badly. But according to what GM George Paton said Thursday in the Denver Post, Sutton is not disgruntled.

“It’s 100% voluntary,” Paton said. “It’s the first week of the offseason program. (Head coach Sean Payton) has talked to Courtland. I’ve talked to Courtland. He’s in a good place.”

Last season, Sutton led the Broncos with 59 catches, 772 yards and 10 touchdowns.

He is reportedly working out in Florida after offseason ankle surgery. Along with the $2 million in guarantees, Sutton’s base salary for 2024 is $13 million. His total cap number in Denver currently is $17.39 million according to

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