Pirates 6, Tigers 4

McLouth 09ST 02-12 (032.jpgIf nothing else, centerfielder Nate McLouth was just glad that he finally got a hit. It was a bonus that it went over the fence for a three-run homer.

After going 0-for-5 this spring, McLouth connected on a 3-2 fastball in the fifth for the home run.

“At least I can’t hit .000,” he joked later.

Freddy Sanchez called it wind-blown and Ryan Doumit labeled it as wind-aided, but McLouth called it legit.

“I hit it well,” he said, not giving all credit to the wind.

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Speaking of the wind, it played havoc with the outfielders on Sunday. Both McLouth and Nyjer Morgan were victims of the wind as they tried to make running, over-the-head outfield grabs. The wind came after a morning thunderstorm that brought in significantly cooler temperatures.

“If you can play the outfield and you can hit in wind like that in Florida, you can play anywhere,” McLouth said.

Not only that, but kudos to the corps of relief pitchers, who allowed just one run in seven innings despite the blustery conditions.

“They did a nice job on a tough day to pitch,” manager John Russell said. “Usually your second or third time out is the time when you start to get a little rusty.”

***

Lefty Phil Dumatrait said that he has five more bullpen/live batting practice sessions to throw before he will be ready to begin pitching in a game. That would put Dumatrait’s timetable at about two weeks before he’d be ready to make that first appearance.

With Dumatrait not scheduled to make his first game appearance until mid-March, it still seems most likely that he’ll start the season on the DL. That would give Dumatrait ample time to finish building up his arm as a starter.

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The Pirates said goodbye to Ramon Vazquez, Ian Snell and Dave Davidson on Sunday, as each headed to join their World Baseball Classic teams. Snell and Vazquez will be training in Fort Myers, Fla., with the Puerto Rican team, while Davidson will be in Dunedin, Fla., with Team Canada.

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Odds and ends: Luis Cruz (left hip flexor) has been cleared to return to game-play on Monday. He is not expected to start, but he will get in before the end of the game. …Garrett Jones made his first start of the spring at first on Sunday. He spent the first half of the game there before finishing in right field. The Pirates would like to see Jones’ versatility, as that could come into play when the Pirates determine who they want to fill the final two bench spots. … Andy LaRoche has hit safely in all three of his spring appearances after singling home a run on Sunday. … Right-hander Brian Slocum (hamstring) threw a side session on Sunday.

***

And no, we will not speak of today’s Mizzou basketball game in this forum.

***

Up next: The Pirates play their Florida neighbors — the Reds — on Monday at 1:05 p.m. ET at McKechnie Field. It’s the first of six meetings between the two NL Central foes this spring. Zach Duke will throw the first two innings and is expected to be followed by Daniel McCutchen, Jason Davis, John Grabow and Craig Hansen. The Reds will start Homer Bailey.

 

1 Comment

I know its early, but what has the biggest surprise been so far this Spring? Donnie Veal? Bootcheck?

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