The Pirates will face the Minnesota Twins at 1:05 today in Fort Myers, Fla., for the final game of the spring. You can listen to the game on 970 ESPN (Pittsburgh) or watch it on MLB Network.
Right-hander Jeff Karstens will start for the Bucs against Left-hander Francisco Liriano.
Karstens is making his fifth appearance (first start) this spring. He is scheduled to throw five innings (80 pitches).
- My apologizes for the late updates the past two days. MLBlogs was down for updates, I was in Ohio for my Dad’s surprise 50th birthday party and I am also battling a cold. Everything is updated, so be sure to read some of the previous posts to get up to speed. It was a busy weekend for the Pirates.
- I’ll be heading to Chicago for Opening weekend on April 1st and 2nd (which is also my birthday). If you will be at Wrigley and/or making the trip, be sure to let me know and Ill come say hello.
- Right-hander James McDonald threw a bullpen this morning at McKechnie Field without issue according to Colin Dunlap of the Post Gazette. McDonald is scheduled to throw a simulated game on Thursday (five innings). If J-Mac is not ready to pitch on April 5th, Jeff Karstens will spot start for him.
- Left-hander Joe Beimel (elbow) threw a 30-pitch bullpen session on Sunday and reported no issues afterwards.
- Right-hander Brad Lincoln (right forearm contusion) continues to progress. Jenifer Langosch of MLB.com reports that there is a chance that Lincoln could remain in extended Spring Training before joining Triple-A Indianapolis.
- On Thursday’s edition of MLB Tonight on MLB Network, the analysts discussed small and large market teams success and how missing on one draft can sink a small market team for years (read more here).
- Following the game today, the Pirates will fly to Philadelphia. The Bucs will play two exhibition games against the Phillies on Tuesday and Wednesday. Ross Ohlendorf will face Roy Oswalt on the 29th, Charlie Morton will face Cole Hamels on the 30th.
- Former Pirates Extra Innings host, Rocco DeMaro, announced today he will have a new podcast this season. Be sure to check him out here.
Lineup: Tabata LF, Walker 2B, McCutchen CF, Doumit DH, Pearce 1B, Diaz RF, Cedeno SS, Rodriguez 2B, Jaramillo C
Pitchers: Karstens, Resop, Olson
Lineup: Span CF, Nishioka 2B, Mauer C, Morneau 1B, Kubel DH, Young LF, Cuddyer RF, Valencia 3B, Casilla SS
Pitchers: Loriano, TBA
General Manager Neal Huntington said after Sunday’s game that Catcher Chris Snyder is “very probable” to start the season on the disabled list.
With Snyder most likely on the DL, that means Ryan Doumit and Jason Jaramillo will be the teams two catchers.
Jenifer Langosch of MLB.com reports that the club did not specify as to whom will play the most games behind the plate.
This also means that John Bowker would make the club as the fifth outfielder (Bowker can also play first base).
Snyder missed two weeks this spring with back issues and is not expected to be out long.
For more roster clarity, read more here.
The Pirates announced after the 5-4 win to the Tampa Bay Rays that infielder Pedro Ciriaco has been optioned to Triple-A Indianapolis.
Rule 5 pick up Josh Rodriguez will make the 25-man roster and serve as the teams backup middle infielder.
Jenifer Langosch of MLB.com reports that Ciriaco will bounce around in Triple-A as super utility guy, playing second base, shortstop, third base and center field.
This marks the fourth straight season the Pirates have kept a Rule 5 draft pick on the roster.
Langosch of MLB.com reports that there were several factors of why the Pirates chose to keep Rodriguez over Ciriaco. Cleveland has publicly stated that they would take Rodriguez back, if the Pirates did not decide to keep him on the 25-man roster. Ciriaco also has one option remaining.
Manager Clint Hurdle told Langosch of MLB.com, “We’ve got nothing to lose here. We need to try some things. We need to be creative and open-minded.”
Ciriaco batted .333 with four doubles, two RBI and three stolen bases in 26 games.
Rodriguez batted .303 with one home run, six RBI with one stolen base in 21 games.
Rodriguez told Jenifer Langosch of MLB.com, “It’s a big opportunity for me. I’ll play my role. I’ll come off the bench and basically do everything in my power to make the team better.”
*Photo credit: Derick Hingle
The Pirates won their final game at McKechnie Field this season on Sunday in walk-off fashion against the Tampa Bay Rays, 5-4.
Rays’ Daniel Mayora’s throwing error in the bottom of the ninth allowed infielder Josh Rodriguez to score the game winning run.
Left-hander Paul Maholm started his final game of the spring against fellow Southpaw David Price.
Maholm allowed three runs on five hits with one walk and five strikeouts over five innings. Maholm has allowed just five walks this spring while striking out 18 over 25 innings.
Maholm told Jenifer Langosch of MLB.com, “I felt a lot more comfortable pitching in. I think as far as pitch counts go, I got to 96 [mph] last time, and I’d say I threw about 70-75 [mph] today. I feel good. I’m just ready go into the cold stuff and see what we can do.”
Kelly Shoppach homered off Maholm in the 2nd inning to the give the Tampa Bay Rays a 1-0 lead.
The Bucs tied the game at 1 in the bottom of the third when Andrew McCutchen grounded out to short, scoring second baseman Neil Walker.
Maholm gave up his second home run of the game in the 5th, a left field solo shot by Ben Zobrist. Reid Brignac singled to right field to tack on another run, giving the Rays a 3-1 lead.
Jose Tabata hit his first home run of the spring in the bottom of the 5th to the pull the Bucs within one run.
The Pirates took the lead in the 6th inning. Ryan Doumit hit a single scoring Matt Diaz and Pedro Alvarez.
Chris Leroux, who is fighting for one of the final spots in the bullpen, allowed the game tying run in the 9th, a solo home run to John Jaso.
Josh Rodriguez drew a walk and advanced to second on Jose Tabata’s fielders choice. Rodriguez came in to score the walk-off run after Mayora threw wide to first base.
- Joel Hanrahan pitched two perfect innings while striking out three. It marked the first time this spring that the Bucs closer pitched multiple innings.
- The Pirates will face the Minnesota Twins on Monday for the final game of the spring. Right-hander Jeff Karstens will start for the Pirates against Left-hander Francisco Liriano.
- Jenifer Langosch of MLB.com reports that the entire club will travel for the road game and fly into Philly afterwards. The Pirates face the Phillies for two exhibition games before the season kicks off in Chicago on April 1st.
- Chris Snyder said he back is feeling better and expects to be the starting catcher for opening day.
Snyder told Rob Biertempfel of the Tribune, “I could play today if I had to. “I’ve been through way worse with my back in 2009.”
General Manager Neal Huntington told Biertempfel of the Tribune, If he’s not ready to catch back-to-back games, we’re either going to carry a third catcher as protection or we’re going to look at the (disabled list).
- Biertempfel of the Tribune also reports that left-hander Joe Beimel threw 30 pitches off a mound on Sunday and was pain free. Biemel (elbow) is expect to be with the team sometime in April.
During Thursday’s episode of MLB Tonight on MLB Network, the Analysis were discussing how small and large market teams can succeed, despite the huge difference in payroll.
They discussed how one bad draft can effect a small market team for four, five years down the road (Pittsburgh Pirates anyone?). Here is what they had to say:
Matt Yallof: “Money doesn’t guarantee anything. It doesn’t guarantee winning, but, if you have a lot of it, it can help ease the blow if you make some mistakes.”
Larry Bowa: “There’s no question about that. The Yankees in 2006 signed a pitcher from Japan named Kei Igawa. The total package was $46 million over five years. $26 million of that was for negotiation rights, to get him over here. Now, we all know everybody makes mistakes in this game. I don’t think anybody can say, ‘I was perfect.’ The point I’m trying to make here is when you are a big market team and you make a $46 million mistake like that, nobody hears about it…When you’re a small market team and you make a $46 million mistake like this, you’re paying for three, four, five years down the road. I think it makes a big difference what market you’re in.”
Mitch Williams: “You’re handcuffed. You’re absolutely handcuffed if you’re a small market team. What it does, you can not make mistakes. If you go down to Tampa and you look: Evan Longoria, first-round pick in 2006, David Price, first-round pick in 2007. Their scouts got it right. If they make that mistake, they sign both these guys and neither one of them pan out, they can’t recover from that. You can not make mistakes if you are a small market team…You have to have very knowledgeable scouts and they better know what they’re looking at and be tremendous evaluators of talent.”
Harold Reynolds: “Back to Larry’s point, you look at $46 million and you say that to Tampa or to Pittsburgh, and say, ‘You’re going to make a $46 million mistake’. They’re done. They’re sunk…We’ve seen it happen with the Red Sox, we’ve seen it happen with the Yankees, we’ve seen it happen across the board with big market teams. You just move on down the road and continue on…It’s not just one year, two years, for the small market, you may lose for five seasons before you’re able to recover. And people wonder why are the Pirates so bad the last 17 years? Well, they’ve missed it in their scouting early on. Now in the last four years they’ve put it together and all of a sudden everybody saying, ‘Oh. The Pirates are heading in the right direction.’ But before that, if you go back and you look at the first-round picks they made –They missed ‘em. And that was the end of them…You can’t miss. It’s a total different game when you’re a small market compared to a big team.”
The Pirates will face the Tampa Bay Rays in Bradenton, Fla., today at 1:05 pm. It is the last game at McKechnie Field this spring.
Left-hander Paul Maholm will start for the Bucs against the Rays David Price.
- Steve Pearce, who will be on the Pirates opening day roster for the first time in his career, is “humbled” to make the team. Pearce told Rob Biertempfel of the Tribune, “I’ve been humbled. In ’08, I really struggled. I tried to repeat that (previous) year. When things weren’t going my way, it was very frustrating. I’ve been humbled and it’s made me work a lot harder. Even though my numbers haven’t been as (good) as they were in ’07, I think I’ve developed as a baseball player. I feel like I’m a better hitter. I’ve learned how to drive the ball the other way. I’m taking pitches, walking and improving my on-base percentage.”
- Jenifer Langosch of MLB.com reports that Catcher Chris Snyder was feeling better on Sunday (He was scratched prior to yesterday’s game).
Snyder received treatment today and additional exercises in the whirlpool.
- Right-hander Jeff Karstens will pitch against the Minnesota Twins on Monday, the final spring game of the season.
Lineup: Tabata LF, Walker 2B, McCutchen CF, Overbay 1B, Diaz RF, Alvarez 3B, Doumit C, Cedeno SS, Maholm LHP
Pitchers: Maholm, Hanrahan, Leroux
Lineup: Upton CF, Damon LF, Longoria 3B, Shoppach C, Zobrist RF, Rodriguez 2B, Johnson 1B, Johnson DH, Brignac SS
Pack your bags: The Pirates equipment truck departs today for Pittsburgh.
*Photo credit: @BucsInsider
Despite allowing a two-run home run to Third baseman Alex Rodriguez in the 1st inning, right-hander Kevin Correia was solid in the Pirates 4-2 loss to the New York Yankees in Tampa, Fla., on Saturday afternoon.
Correia allowed three runs on five hits with two walks and five strikeouts. It was the first time this spring he pitched into the sixth inning. Correia threw 92 pitches (59 for strikes).
Correia told Jenifer Langosch of MLB.com, “I thought it was definitely my best outing in spring. I felt strong the whole time. You want your last Spring Training outing to be good. You don’t want to go into the season thinking about how you didn’t pitch well the time before. I felt pretty good about this one.”
Manager Clint Hurdle told Langosch of MLB.com, “I thought he got stronger as he went on. He expects a lot of himself. He never shuts himself down on an inning or an outing. He takes a lot of pride in getting the ball and pitching deep and getting as many innings as he can get. I thought it was a very good way for him to finish up.”
Correia is set to be the opening day starter on April 1st against the Cubs in Chicago.
The Pirates put one run on the board in the 2nd inning after a two out double by Jason Jaramillo which scored Pedro Alvarez.
Chris Dickerson extended the Yankees lead to 3-1 after singling to center field, scoring Outfielder Nick Swisher.
The Bucs brought the game to within one run after second baseman Neil Walker hit a sac fly to score Jose Tabata.
In the 8th inning, Mike Crotta gave up his first earned run this spring, a RBI single by Austin Krum giving the Yankees a 4-2 lead. Crotta’s scoreless inning streak lasted 10.1 innings.
Hurdle told Biertempfel of the Tribune, “He’s pitching out of the bullpen now and that’s not something he did last year. He’s a big guy (6-feet-6, 235 pounds), he repeats his delivery pretty well, he’s got good downhill plane. It’s hard sink, mid-90s mph sink and he’s added a complementary breaking ball. And he’s pounded the strike zone. Those things are always going to work. We’ll see how he finishes it off, but he has done everything he could possibly do to build his confidence and let us know that maybe we should give him an opportunity, and possibly sooner than later.”
- Manager Clint Hurdle announced earlier today that Andrew McCutchen will bat third in the lineup this year. Jose Tabata will lead off for the Bucs with Pedro Alvarez batting fifth (read more here).
- James McDonald (left side) threw a successful three inning game against the Yankees Triple-A team today. He reported to feel fine afterwards (read more here).
- Rob Biertempfel of the Tribune reports that Pirates No. 1 prospect, Jameson Taillon threw three scoreless innings allowing three hits against the Yankees High-A team.
- The Pirates have lost five games in a row. Are the losses in spring training really important, or does it effect the team?
Hurdle told Rob Biertempfel of the Tribune, “We play every game to win. But if we don’t, we don’t. When we start the season, we’re not going to have any. We just haven’t played complete games for the last 10-11 games. You’ve got to throw a complete package out there. I’ll be more concerned when we’re running our regular team out there. We’ve been trying to take a very good inventory of all our players this spring and challenging guys in different situations. Winning’s always the intent, but the focus will shift to a higher degree of that once the season starts.”
Right-hander James McDonald pitched three innings against the New York Yankees Triple-A team on Saturday.
McDonald threw 44 pitches (28 for strikes) allowing one run on four hits with three strikeouts.
This marked the first time McDonald threw since March 11th. He has been sidelined with left side soreness.
McDonald reported afterwards that he felt fine.
McDonald told Jenifer Langosh of MLB.com, “I still need to build a little more stamina. It’s not fair for me to go three innings and leave the bullpen hanging.”
McDonald is scheduled to stay in Florida when the team travels to Philadelphia for two exhibition games and pitch in a minor league game on March 31st. He will extend himself out to five innings, or 80 pitches.
*Photo credit: CBS Pittsburgh
Pirates Manager Clint Hurdle announced on Saturday that Andrew McCutchen will bat third this season with Jose Tabata leading off.
Saturday’s lineup against the Yankees is close to what you will expect to see this season.
Neil Walker will bat second, Lyle Overbay will bat in cleanup with Pedro Alvarez batting fifth. Matt Diaz/Garrett Jones (depending on righty/lefty pitcher) will bat sixth and Ronny Cedeno hitting seventh. The catcher batting eight with the pitcher hitting ninth.
Many expected Alvarez to bat fourth this year, but Manager Clint Hurdle explained his reasoning. Hurdle told Jenifer Langosch of MLB.com, “I think right now it just sets us up best. Pedro has a lot on his plate right now, and I think Overbay — at least with the spring he’s had — his confidence is good. We’ll start that way and see where it takes us.”
Expect Alvarez to be bumped up eventually. In just his first full season, batting him fifth takes a lot of pressure off of him.
What may shock most fans is that McCutchen, who swiped 33 bags last year, will be batting third, not leadoff.
McCutchen says his approach at the plate will be no different where in the lineup he bats.
McCutchen told Langosch of MLB.com, “It’s not like I’m an Albert Pujols that was a leadoff guy. That would be a big deal. I’m a guy that can do a lot. I can bring a lot to the plate. I can hit first. I can hit third. It’s not really a big deal.
“The sky is the limit from here. Run production should go up, and hopefully everything else will be able to go up as well. It really doesn’t matter where I’m hitting at. I’m going to be comfortable hitting there.”
Tabata is looking forward to leading off for the Bucs this year.
Tabata told Langosch of MLB.com, “I love it,” Tabata said of the opportunity to lead off. “I can walk. I can score more runs. I can steal more bases. I can do more things.”
*Photo credit: Pittsburgh-Post Gazette
The Pirates will face the New York Yankees in Tampa, Fla., at 1:05 pm. The game will broadcast on FSN Pittsburgh (for the last time before it transitions into ROOT Sports).
Right-hand pitcher Kevin Corriea will face left-hander Manny Bauelos.
- Chris Snyder was scratched from the lineup today with a stiff back. Snyder missed two weeks due to the injury. He caught against the Orioles on Thursday night for the first time since being sidelined and it was reported that he was sore on Saturday.
Snyder told Rob Biertempfel of the Tribune, “Maybe I did a little too much, too soon. We’re going to have to see (about the severity), come next week. I couldn’t tell you right now.”
Just two spring training games remain, and two exhibition games in Philadelphia before the season starts on April 1st. Snyder being out could change the pitching plans.
Manager Clint Hurdle told Biertempfel of the Tribune, “It could have an impact on our catching situation. We need to re-evaluate and revisit what the issues are. For it to happen again after just catching a night game … we’ll see. It definitely could jeopardize what we do with the roster and who goes with us.”
Jenifer Langosch of MLB.com reports that if Snyder is out for the beginning of the year, Ryan Doumit will be the opening day catcher with Jason Jaramillo as the backup.
Jaramillo will replace Snyder in the lineup this afternoon.
- Earlier this morning, the Pirates cut four players from camp: Left-hander Brian Burres, Infielder Andy Marte, Catcher Dusty Brown and Infielder/Outfielder Corey Wimberley (read more here).
With Marte cut from big league camp, Steve Pearce makes the Pirates opening day roster for the first time in his career (read more here).
- James McDonald is scheduled to pitch in a minor league game today in Tampa against the Yankees Triple-A team. This marks McDonald’s first outing since March 11th. The Pirates would like him to throw about 50 pitches.
Jenifer Langosch of MLB.com reports that If for some reason McDonald is not ready to start on April 6th, Jeff Karstens would be asked to spot start in the rotation. If not, Karstens will remain as the long inning relief pitcher in the ‘pen.
- Three relievers remain for two final spots in the bullpen. Lefty Garrett Olson and Right-handers Mike Crotta and Chris Leroux.
- On Friday’s edition of Baseball tonight, Buster Olney discussed what must go right and what could go wrong for all 30 major league teams. Here is what he had to say about the Bucs:
Olney: “For the Pittsburgh Pirates. What must go right? The rising group of talent, positions players. Andrew McCutchen, Pedro Alvarez, Jose Tabata must continue to grow. You know what? Scouts really like the high ceiling players they’re putting together.
Now, what could go wrong for the Pirates? The rotation appears to be thin again. This torpedo, the Pirates went 57-105 last season. Neal Huntington, their General Manager, is in the last year of his contract. They are not committed to him long term.”
Lineup: Tabata LF, Walker 2B, McCutchen CF, Overbay 1B, Alvarez 3B, Jones RF, Cedeno SS, Jaramillo C, Correia RHP
Pitchers: Correia, Crotta, Veras
Lineup: Gardner CF, Jeter SS, Teixeira 1B, Rodriguez 3B, Swisher RF, Posada DH, Dickerson LF, Nunez 2B, Romine C
Pitchers: Bauelos, TBA