Phillies @ Pirates Postgame Wrap
The highlight of the afternoon, aside from the Pirates downing the defending World Series champs (ok, so maybe the game doesn’t really count) had to be Shelby Ford’s three-run homer in the fourth. Ford, who was taking his first at-bat in a Major League Spring Training game, turned on an inside fastball from Joe Bisenius and snuck it over the right-field wall.
Not a bad introduction for a kid who has hit just 15 home runs in three Minor League seasons.
Said Ford afterward: “I was just trying to put a good at-bat together. Whenever I hit something like that, it really has to get up for me to know it’s gone. When I saw it actually go over the fence, I was like ‘Oh, wow! First at-bat.’ I was trying to keep a straight face while rounding the bases, but once I got home I was like, ‘Alright, let it go.’ It was definitely a good feeling.”
Maybe it was the fact that he’s not used to coming in to pitch the second inning, but closer Matt Capps went through a 12-pitch span where he lost the strikezone on Wednesday. After getting Phillies slugger Ryan Howard to swing and miss back-to-back changeups to record a strikeout, Capps walked the next three hitters, all on 4-0 counts.
“I just got into a rut there and couldn’t find the plate,” Capps said afterward. “I’m a little rusty.”
Capps escaped the jam, though, by inducing an inning-ending double play with the bases loaded.
No one has to tell Rule 5 Draft pick Donnie Veal what’s at stake over the next month. The hard-throwing lefty took the mound for his first inning of work this spring trying to prove to the Pirates that he’s worth keeping.
Veal gave up one hit, but otherwise pitched a perfect inning. Wednesday also provided him the first chance to out his reworked mechanics (what he calls “quieting down his body”) to use in a game.
“This is my first big league Spring Training, and I’m trying to impress some people,” he said after the outing. “The first [hitter] I was a little nervous, but once I got in there and got going, I kind of got over that.”
Other news and notes:
- Craig Hansen, who entered camp with looming questions about his control, looked real sharp in his inning of work. Hansen showcased his power arm and recorded two strikeouts.
- Third baseman Pedro Alvarez made his spring debut and went 0-for-1 with a strikeout. Alvarez swung and missed on three consecutive pitches.
- Left-hander Phil Dumatrait threw yet another successful side session on Wednesday. He’s scheduled to throw another over the weekend.
- Second baseman Freddy Sanchez had a 2-for-2 day with an RBI single. Most importantly, though, he was on the field for the spring opener (unlike last year) and free of shoulder discomfort.
- Righty Virgil Vasquez resumed throwing on Wednesday after almost a week of resting his sore right arm. Vasquez threw about 35 pitches in a side session. He will take Thursday off and is then scheduled to throw live batting practice on Friday.
Up Next: The Pirates travel to Fort Myers, Fla., to play the Red Sox on Thursday. First pitch is scheduled for 1:05 p.m. ET.
Ian Snell, Ross Ohlendorf, Jimmy Barthmaier, Denny Bautista and Sean Burnett are all scheduled to pitch for the Pirates.
Jon Lester, Takashi Saito and Hideki Okajima are among those who will take the mound for Boston.
Manager John Russell confirmed that Jason Jaramillo, who is competing to be the team’s backup catcher, will start the game behind the plate. Ryan Doumit, Adam LaRoche, Luis Cruz, Freddy Sanchez, Jack Wilson, Ramon Vazquez and Nate McLouth will not be taking the trip with the team.
Quotable: “It’s nice to have a pitching coach that is kind of hands on where you can think along right with him. When you’re on the mound, you almost feel like you have those training wheels on, so to speak, and you can kind of think along with him.” — Chris Bootcheck, on pitching coach Joe Kerrigan.
Photo credit: Dave Arrigo (Pirates)