Phillies 7, Pirates 4

Jenifer Langosch/MLB.com

On the main site tonight, you can find a look at Josh Rodriguez, the Pirates’ Rule 5 pick who is trying to make the club as a backup middle infielder. To this point, Rodriguez has looked like he is trying a bit too hard to make an impression. We’ll see if he can get his nerves in check and just allow himself to relax and play as camp continues on.

I’m not really sure who among Rodriguez, Corey Wimberly or Pedro Ciriaco would be considered the favorite for that bench spot yet. Ciriaco is the best defensively of the three, but there are concerns about his bat. Wimberly and Rodriguez have to show that they are strong enough to play short at the Major League level. Wimberly has intriguing speed. Rodriguez probably has the best long-term potential with the bat.

Could be an interesting race over the next three weeks.

Also on the main site, you’ll find notes about Paul Maholm wanting the Opening Day start, Kevin Correia commenting about his outing Friday, Ronny Cedeno being scratched with a finger injury, and Minor League pitcher Michael Dubee talking about the chance to pitch in front of his dad — Phillies pitching coach Rich Dubee.

Also, don’t hesitate to send over some fresh Inbox questions over the weekend. If I can get enough good ones, I’ll put out an Inbox sometime next week. Remember to include your first name, last initial and hometown when you send your email to jenifer.langosch@mlb.com.

As for your leftovers…

***

Manager Clint Hurdle’s call for aggressive baserunning have been answered. Today, Neil Walker was thrown out trying to go first-to-third on a hard hit single to right. Phillies outfielder Wilson Valdez made a perfect throw to get Walker by a few steps. The attempt to take the extra base stalled a rally in the inning, but it’s what Hurdle wants to see at this point in spring.

Matt Diaz stole his first base of the spring after getting a single in the second. The Pirates now have 11 steals, a Grapefruit League high. The club has had three runners thrown out attempting to swipe a base.

***

Tony Sanchez, the Pirates’ top position player prospect and a first-round pick, finally got to see some Grapefruit League action. Sanchez had been solely watching from the bench since playing against the college kids, but Hurdle got him in to DH for the final few innings on Friday.

Despite not having played, Sanchez put together two pretty impressive at-bats. He fell into an 0-2 count his first time up, stayed alive and eventually ripped a ball down the left-field line for a double.

He fell into an 0-2 hole in his second at-bat, too, before taking three pitches to work the count full. Though Sanchez eventually was called out on strikes, his ability to work his way back into both at-bats was encouraging.

“Tony is going to be a good player,” Hurdle said afterward. “He is going to be a good hitter. He likes making things happen when he’s on offense. He is fun to watch.”

***

Fernando Nieve is not doing himself any favors in trying to earn a spot in the bullpen. He had another terrible outing on Friday. Nieve gave up five hits, four runs and walked one in 1 1/3 innings. This comes after he allowed three earned runs on five hits in one inning on February 28.

The Pirates signed Nieve to a Minor League deal over the winter. Much can still change, but at this point, plenty of other relief candidates have performed much better early.

Follow me on Twitter: @LangoschMLB

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