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An early 2-0 lead blown as the Pirates fell to the Tampa Bay Rays 9-5, in the Grapefruit League opener.
Charlie Morton started for the Bucs, and he looked solid. He allowed just one hit and one walk through two innings of work.
The Pirates quickly took a 2-0 lead in the second inning when Ronny Cedeno, with the bases loaded, hit a fielders choice scoring a run. Jose Tabata followed with an RBI single.
Brad Lincoln, who is also battling Morton for the 5th spot in the rotation, allowed one run on three hits, striking out one through two innings. The lone run he allowed was a solo-home run by Third baseman Evan Longoria in the fourth inning. Lincoln also picked off Sean Rodriguez from second base –something that the pitchers have been working heavily on this spring training.
“It was the right timing, and I was fortunate enough to make a good throw,” Lincoln said. “It got me out of a big situation right there.”
Daniel Moskos pitched a scoreless, hitless inning, walking just one.
Things turned sour in the sixth inning when Daniel McCutchen allowed three earned runs on two hits and two walks.
Justin Thomas allowed four more runs to score in the seventh inning after Josh Fields made an error at first base.
The Pirates tried to rally in the ninth inning. Garrett Atkins hit a RBI double scoring Garrett Jones. Ryan Doumit grounded to second base scoring Atkins. But Josh Rodriguez striked out with two men on, to end the game.
The Pirates will face the Tampa Bay Rays on Saturday at 1:05 PM.
Charlie Morton will be taking the mound against David Price in Port Charlotte in the Grapefruit league opener. Morton will pitch two innings, followed by Brad Lincoln who will also pitch two innings.
This gives the staff a good look at both starters who are in the running for the 5th spot in the rotation.
So what is pitching coach Ray Searage looking for? “All I’m looking for right now is the aggressive approach, first-pitch strikes and attacking the bottom of the zone.”
They will be followed by Chris Resop, Daniel Moskos, Daniel McCutchen and Justin Thomas and Cesar Valdez, who will all pitch one inning each.
Here is the Pirates starting lineup:
Jose Tabata 7
Neil Walker 4
Andrew McCutchen 8
Pedro Alvarez 5
Matt Diaz 9
Lyle Overbay 3
Ryan Doumit DH
Chris Snyder 2
Ronny Cedeno 6
Charlie Morton 1
The Rays starting lineup:
John Jaso 2
Johnny Damon 7
Evan Longoria 5
Manny Ramirez DH
Ben Zobrist 9
BJ Upton 8
Dan Johnson 3
Sean Rodriguez 4
Reid Brignac 6
David Price 1
The Pirates will be facing Ace David Price of the Rays. He went 19-6 with a 2.72 ERA last season.
“The guy on the mound tomorrow can spin it a little bit, he’s got some plus [velocity],” manager Clint Hurdle said on Friday. “We could be behind a little bit. So you just got to wait and show up and find out what’s going to happen.”
The starters will most likely play five innings, two at-bats each.
- FSN Pittsburgh will be telecasting four spring training games this year: March 6th (1pm) against the Toronto Blue Jays, March 10th (7pm) against the Baltimore Orioles, March 19th (1pm) against the Boston Red Sox and March 26th (1pm) against the New York Yankees.
- FM News Talk 104.7, the Pirates flagship radio station, will have 12 games this year which includes the home opener against the Tampa Bay Rays on Saturday.
- Joe Beimel won the Pirates bunt tournament on Thursday, beating out Kevin Correia in the final round as the entire team watched. Not only was it was a fun way to bring the team together, but they also learned from it too. Read more.
- Scott Olsen is scheduled to throw another 25 pitch fastball session on Saturday. Afterwards, the Pirates will reevaluate him. Olsen has been sidelined due to a sore left hamstring.
- Evan Meek threw off flat ground on Friday and also threw long toss. It is unknown to when he will return to the mound. Meek has tightness in his right calf.
“There’s no rush with Evan,” Searage said. “I want to make sure he’s 110 percent before I send his butt out there. He’s playing long toss and doing flat ground right now.”
- Thursday marked the final day of workouts held at Pirate City for the Pirates. They will be held at McKechnie Field with the Grapefruit league opener starting on Saturday.
- Pirates game against the State College of Florida will start at 12:05 tomorrow and will be available to watch live at: www.scf.edu
- Kevin Correia will get the start on Sunday against Tampa Bay Rays. He will be followed by Ross Ohlendorf, Joel Hanrahan, Joe Beimel and Jose Veras .
- Scott Olsen threw a 25 pitch fastball bullpen session on Thursday and didn’t have an any reported discomfort afterwards.
- Former Bucco Lastings Milledge spoke to Chicago Breaking Sports about being non-tendered by the Pirates.
“They have their reasons,” said Milledge, who cut his long hair. “They got a good guy in right field, a guy who they wanted. That’s that. That’s part of the business. We’re both in different places, and I’m sure Matt (Diaz) is happy to be there. And I’m happy to be here.
“Obviously, it was a little disappointing. Definitely being a first-year arbitration guy to fight and scratch and claw to get to arbitration to get a change of money. At the same time, I’m on a team that’s a playoff contender and can do big things.”
- Baseball America predicts that Jameson Taillon and Stetson Allie will make the majors in 2013.
- The entire team crowded around home plate to watch Joe Beimel edge Kevin Correia, and win the Pirates bunt drill championship.
“Just gets everybody focused,” manager Clint Hurdle said. “Everybody’s got a shot, everybody’s got a chance. … You can hear the cheers and the oh’s and the ooh’s and the aahs.”
Kevin Correia squares up for a bunt in the bunt competition finals in front of the entire team (photo via @BucsInsider)
- As I reported earlier, Evan Meek has been limited to workouts due to a tight right calf. He is listed day-to-day.
“It’s nothing major,” Meek said. “I’ll miss maybe another day or two, that’s it.”
“We’ll just keep monitoring him day-to-day. It’s still early for him,” manager Clint Hurdle said. “There’s no red flags or anything, and we’ll get him out there when we can.”
- Kevin Correia, Ross Ohlendorf, Joel Hanrahan, Joe Beimel and Jose Veras threw bullpen sessions today.
- James McDonald did not have control during his last bullpen session on Tuesday. It’s still early in spring training, so I wouldn’t look too much into it, but still thought it was worth noting. McDonald will pitch a simulated game on Friday.
“He was rushing it a little bit, and we talked about it,” Pirates pitching coach Ray Searage said. “He was pulling his head out, trying to overthrow stuff, which is normal [at this time of year]. He felt really strong, which is good. But he’s got to make sure that he channels that energy.”
- There have been several reports that Pedro Alvarez hit a ball past the right field wall, hitting a palm tree. He may have gained weight this offseason, but it seems like he is stronger than ever.
- Alex Presley is still focused on making the big league roster. The Pirates already have the outfield set; Jose Tabata in left field, Andrew McCutchen in center, and Garrett Jones/Matt Diaz platoon in right field.
If Presley were to make the roster it would be as a fifth outfielder.
“I like what I’ve seen from Alex,” Hurdle said. “I like the conversations I’ve had with the people within our organization. I like the conversations I’ve had with the people who have had him previous to even last year.
“The ability to play all three outfield positions and the ability to utilize some speed on the bases. He is not a guy, who when you look at him, you think, ‘We can bring everybody in.’ There is some barrel to that bat. It will play a little bit. He can drive a baseball.”
The Buccos walk off the Pirate City fields for the final time in 2011 (photo via @BucsInsider)
- Steve Pearce has been getting workouts at third base this year. During the 2010 season, Pearce played five games at third with the Triple-A Indians –the only time he’s played that position since college.
Pearce has been working out at third, right field and first base to become a more utility guy in hopes of making the Pirates roster.
“It definitely is a boost because they see it,” Pearce said. “They see how hard I work. They see I have good hands and footwork. For me, being a guy who’s been in Triple-A in parts of the past four years, this gives me a better chance to stick in the big leagues.”
“It’s been an easy transition because I played (third) in college,” Pearce said. “I’m comfortable over there. I just have to get my reps so it becomes a little bit easier getting reads on hops and stuff like that.”
- Jon Heyman of Sports Illustrated and MLB Network reports that the Pirates offered Carl Pavano two years/ $13 million this offseason before he decided to re-sign with the Minnesota Twins.
Charlie Morton will be starting on Saturday against the Tampa Bay Rays David Price in Port Charlotte in the Grapefruit league opener. Morton will pitch two innings, followed by Brad Lincoln who will also pitch two innings.
This gives the staff a good look at both starters who are in the running for the 5th spot in the rotation.
They will be followed by Chris Resop, Daniel Moskos, Daniel McCutchen and Justin Thomas/Cesar Valdez
- Kevin Correia will start at McKechnie Field on Sunday against James Shields.
- On Monday it is a split squad; Bryan Morris will start for the Pirates against the Rays in Port Charlotte. The Bucs will face the Baltimore Orioles in Bradenton but the starters have not yet been announced.
- Jose Ascanio missed workouts again on Wednesday with tightness in his right elbow. He’s listed as day-to-day.
- Scott Olsen threw on flat ground. He is still sidelined with a left hamstring strain.
- Thursday will be the last workout held at Pirate City. Camp will be relocated to McKechnie Field.
“We still have much work to do,” Hurdle said. “But at this point, we’ve covered what we wanted to cover.” Hurdle said more team fundamentals and specialty defenses will be added to the mix in the next few days. We’ll be ready to roll on Saturday.”
- Pitchers threw a session of live batting practice to the players on Wednesday. They included: Jeff Karstens, Charlie Morton, Daniel Moskos, Sean Gallagher, Brad Lincoln and Brian Burres.
- Manager Clint Hurdle is very happy with what he’s seen so far from the Pirates four locked starters Kevin Correia, Ross Ohlendorf, James McDonald and Paul Maholm.
“I’m seeing the things that I want to see out of the guys that we already have lined up in the starting rotation,” Hurdle said. “There are a number of other guys who are throwing well through this period. They are all working extremely hard. That’s the thing I’m most optimistic about.”
Baseball America released its list of Top 100 prospects on Wednesday. Three Pirates made the list: Jameson Taillon (No. 11), Tony Sanchez (No. 46) and Stetson Allie (No. 79) .
Lyle Overbay takes part in the annual sliding drill (photo BucsInsider)
- The Tampa Bay Rays Manager Joe Madden announced that David Price will start on the home opener against the Pirates on Saturday. Manager Clint Hurdle has not announced who will start for the Bucs yet.
- MLB Network will be airing three spring training games.
Sun March 6 Blue Jays vs. Pirates
Thursday March 10 Orioles vs. Pirates
Mon March 28 Pirates vs. Twins
- Pedro Alvarez, who missed Monday’s workouts due to necks spasms, was at workouts on Tuesday. He took swings and participated in defensive drills.
- The Pirates will use seven pitchers for one inning a piece in during the game on Saturday against State College of Florida. They are as followed: Aaron Thompson, Tyler Yates, Jeff Locke, Mike Crotta, Justin Wilson, Kyle McPherson and Rudy Owens.
The workouts ran 15 minutes longer than usual, according to Rob Biertmepfel of the Trib.
“The only way to increase stamina is to work when you’re a little bit fatigued,” Hurdle said. “That’s how marathon runners work. You’ve got to run to a distance you haven’t run before. One of the separators at the major league level during a game is finding a way to be comfortable with being uncomfortable. It’s something you spend a lot of time with in a game. How many times in a game do you go to the plate where you’re locked in, the ball’s big and your swing’s right? We need to push them. Where we want to go is going to take work. It’s not going to take putting a couple hours in and going through a traditional routine.”
- The position players worked on hit and runs on Tuesday, while the catchers took practice blocking balls in the dirt.
- Pitchers and position players worked on signs and stolen base attempts.
- The players continued to work on base running drills at Camp Hurdle –a huge focus this year. Hurdle also emphasized runners going from first to third base on singles.
“Our goal is to be the best in the National League at this,” coach Nick Leyva said.
- Tyler Yates will throw a supervised side session to pitching coach Ray Searage on Wednesday. Yates did not throw live batting practice to the players this week.
“I want to work on him again and make sure that he feels comfortable mechanically,” Searage said. “This is my call. He’s ready to go. He would probably get something out of the BP, but I think I can get more out of working with him on the sideline.”
- Jose Ascanio is sidelined with a tight right elbow. The discomfort came a day after throwing his bullpen session on Monday. His status is day-to-day.
Matt Diaz swinging in the cage. Chris Snyder watches on beautiful day in Bradenton, Fl. (photos via @Colin_Dunlap)
Pedro Alvarez, along with other Pirates players practicing drills.
Joe Beimel may be back in Pittsburgh for his second stint in his career, but he insists he is a much different pitcher now.
“I’m way different now than I was before,” Beimel said. “I’m much wiser.”
“When I was here the first time, I don’t think I was very good because now, looking back on it, I don’t know what kind of pitcher I was at the time,” said Beimel, who pitched in 164 games with the Pirates between 2001-03. “I was out there trying to strike guys out, wasn’t throwing strikes. I just watched some of those old tapes and, you know, it really made me sick. … I’m not that pitcher anymore.”
Beimel has previously pitched with the Twins, Rays, Dodgers, Nationals and Rockies during his 10 year career.
Manager Clint Hurdle will be using the lefty as a bridge between the starters and the late innings of the bullpen reserved for Evan Meek and closer Joel Hanrahan.
“I’m very strong against left-handed hitters and I can get right-handers out, too,” said Beimel, who has a career 4.16 ERA. “I think, with me, sometimes I get pigeonholed into being a left-handed specialist. I don’t like that, because you are only working one side of the plate. … I am very confident that I can face both and get both out, and I think that is the opportunity they are going to give me here.”
- Pirates pitcher Paul Maholm has already arrived at Bradenton, FL. For spring training. He shared a picture on twitter: “It all starts here Monday.”
- Manager Clint Hurdle kicks off his first spring training workout on Monday at noon (Pitchers and catchers are to report on Sunday).
- This year, there are 63 players reporting to big league camp (40-man roster, plus 23 non-roster invites). Those invited include:
40-man: Ramon Aguero, Jose Ascanio, Kevin Correia, Michael Crotta, Joel Hanrahan, Kevin Hart, Jeff Karstens, Chris Leroux, Brad Lincoln, Jeff Locke, Paul Maholm, Daniel McCutchen, James McDonald, Kyle McPherson, Evan Meek, Bryan Morris, Charlie Morton, Daniel Moskos, Ross Ohlendorf, Scott Olsen, Chris Resop, Tony Watson, Aaron Thompson, Ryan Doumit, Chris Snyder, Jason Jaramillo, Pedro Alvarez, Pedro Ciriaco, Steve Pearce, Neil Walker, Ronny Cedeno, Lyle Overbay, Josh Rodriguez, John Bowker, Gorkys Hernandez, Andrew McCutchen, Alex Presley, Matt Diaz, Garrett Jones, Jose Tabata
Non roster invites: Andrew Lambo, Justin Thomas, Fernando Nieve, Josh Fields, Dusty Brown, Eric Fryer, Chase D’Arnaud, Sean Gallagher, Donnie Veal, Andy Marte, Cesar Valdez, Tony Sanchez, Brian Friday, Jose Veras, Joe Beimel, Tyler Yates, Jeff Clement, Rudy Owens, Justin Wilson, Garrett Atkins, Corey Wimberly, Brian Burres, Wyatt Toregas
- According to Jenifer Langosch, beat reporter of the Pittsburgh Pirates, Hurdle’s camp will be much different than John Russell’s. Hurdle specifically noted that there would be an increased focus on shoring up fundamentals and honing pitchers’ pickoff moves.
- During spring training, Hurdle will choose a closer for the Pirates (Joel Hanrahan or Evan Meek) as well as a fifth starter (options include: Charlie Morton, Scott Olsen). Bench players and bullpen will be determined as well.
- Spring training runs through February 24th. The Pirates will kick off spring training games against State College of Florida at 12:05 p.m. ET at McKechnie Field.
- The Pirates will host games against the Tampa Bay Rays, Baltimore Orioles, New York Yankees, Minnesota Twins, Philadelphia Phillies, Toronto Blue Jays, Boston Red Sox and Houston Astros (click here for the full schedule).
As I pointed out on Wednesday, ESPN’s Keith Law ranked the Pirates system No. 21 out of the 30 major league clubs.
On Thursday, Law delivered his Top 100 list, and two Buccos made the list.
Pitcher Jameson Taillon was named No. 30, and catcher Tony Sanchez was named No. 63.
Law mentions Taillon’s tendency to overthrow and the need for a changeup as the critiques in his write-up.
“[Sanchez has] above-average raw power and would have a chance to hit for average at the same time, making him a fringe All-Star at that position. He’s an extremely hard worker who ended up at Boston College without a scholarship but improved his body to the point where he not only made the team, but became its best player. I wouldn’t bet against him at this point.”-Keith Law on ESPN Insider Top 100 Prospects
Law’s Top 10 in the Pirates minor league system:
1) Jameson Taillon, RHP (30)
2) Tony Sanchez, C (63)
3) Luis Heredia, RHP
4) Stetson Allie, RHP
5) Rudy Owens, LHP
6) Jeff Locke, LHP
7) Justin Wilson, LHP
8) Bryan Morris, RHP
9) Starling Marte, OF
10) Zach Von Rosenberg, RHP
Law on the Pirates minor league system: “This system consists of a few high-end prospects, including three teenage power arms, followed by a dropoff. The big investment in prep arms in 2009 hasn’t yielded any major prospects yet, although it’s early.”
Law’s thoughts on Luis Heredia, who just missed the list: “will sit in the low 90s (mph) already with a good feel for the fastball. He’s very well-developed physically for a 16-year-old, with a big frame and the potential to get heavy, which is more of a long-term concern.”
- The Tampa Bay Rays have eight players in the top 100. The Toronto Blue Jays and Kansas City Royals each have six. The Houston Astros have only one player and The Milwaukee Brewers have zero, zilch (YIKES!). Every other team has at least two in the top 100.
The Pirates have signed reliever Jose Veras to a minor league deal with an invite to spring training.
Veras, 30, went 3-3 with a 3.75 ERA in 48 appearances with the Florida Marlins in 2010.
According to ESPNDesportes, Veras had other offers from the Giants, Rockies, Twins, Marlins, and Rays.
If he makes the major league roster, Veras will make $1 Million plus incentives.