Pirates 6, Phillies 5


Thumbnail image for Daniel McCutchen 2.jpgZach Duke
had a stellar game, his best yet in what had already been an cumulatively impressive spring.

Fellow starter Daniel McCutchen (pictured to left), however, didn’t fare so well. McCutchen took a step back in his Spring Training progression on Friday — 1 1/3 innings pitched, six hits, five earned runs, one walk, one strikeout.

What had McCutchen most disappointed, too, was that this outing came on the heels of his strongest spring showing his last time out.

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On Thursday, it was non-roster invitee Craig Monroe (three homers) who stole the show. On Friday, it was non-roster invitee Jeff Salazar who hit the headline shot. Salazar’s three-run home run with one out in the ninth sealed the come-from-behind win for the team.

Both Salazar and Monroe are battling for a backup outfield spot that only one of them will be able to get. But the Pirates have to like the fact that both guys, along with a number of others, are going to make those final roster decisions as tough as possible.

“It’s a nice problem to have,” manager John Russell said. “Last year we were trying to search for things a lot, especially when the season got going and we needed help. We felt like we were in a bind. This year, we like the options we have.”

Monroe still likely has the leg up in the competition for that bench spot because the Pirates ideally need a right-handed hitting outfield option. Still, Salazar, who has three home runs this spring, would give the Pirates an intriguing option down at Triple-A if he starts there and then the Major League club runs into a need for another outfielder.

***

No new injury updates today. Eric Hinske (left rib cage contusion), Andy Phillips (lower back stiffness) and Shelby Ford (sprained right wrist) all stayed back at McKechnie Field for the day. As mentioned in the blog this morning, Brandon Moss has also returned to Bradenton and seemed encouraged by decreasing swelling in his right thumb. Now it’s just a matter of how long it will take Moss to get the strength back in his grip.

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When Salazar’s three-run homer in the top of the ninth ensured a bottom half of the inning, former Expos pitcher Jeremy Powell got to make an appearance before the day’s end. Powell, who was signed by the Pirates to a Minor League deal this offseason, is participating in Minor League camp, but traveled with the team to Clearwater, Fla., in case the need for an extra reliever arose.

This is Powell’s first time back playing professionally in the US since 2000, when he was playing in Montreal. From 2001-08, Powell pitched in Japan.

***

Up Next: The mighty Yankees come to town on Saturday, except for they won’t, uh, be so mighty this time around. New York has a split-squad on the schedule tomorrow, and I’d suspect that most of the Major League players on the team will stay behind for the game in Tampa. Sorry to all of you who bought tickets for the game expecting to see the Yankees’ Major League team.

Pirates starter Ross Ohlendorf will get to face his former team for the first time in what will be Ohlendorf’s fourth spring appearance. Denny Bautista, Chris Bootcheck, Sean Burnett, Jesse Chavez, Craig Hansen and Donnie Veal are also scheduled to pitch for the Pirates.

The Yankees will start right-hander Phil Hughes.

For those back in Pittsburgh, the game will be broadcast on 104.7 FM.

1 Comment

Jen I really like the way our bullpen is pitching so far. Your thoughts and what you think about Donnie Veal.

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