Blue Jays 5, Pirates 3

Jenifer Langosch/MLB.com

Paul Maholm has yet to make a scoreless appearance this spring, but he is the only one of the Pirates’ four sure starters that has finished his scheduled number of innings each time he has taken the mound. That is a definite sign of efficiency, as pitchers are only allotted a certain number of pitches ahead of time for these spring games. Hit that limit — no matter how good the day might seem to be going — and that’s it.

Maholm has one troublesome inning on Wednesday, and he picked up the loss as a result. He allowed an RBI single off the left-field wall and a two-run blast –  both hits coming on hanging sliders.

“This is the first time really all spring – bullpens, games – that I’ve all of a sudden gotten out of whack,” Maholm said. “I felt just off. It’s bad when you know you’re off and you’re trying to compete. But I was able to come back out and do what I was needed to do. Just rhythm, really. I was just a little too quick. When I get too quick, everything just goes up. Molina hit a slider that was just spinning and so did Cooper. That’s part of the ongoing process to get ready for the season. We’ll go from there.”

Otherwise, Maholm seemed pleased with the outing — his fourth of the spring. He induced plenty of groundballs — a sign of an effective sinker — and he got into little other trouble.

Maholm also spoke afterward about the desire to move on to the regular season. This is always the time of spring when players start feeling good about where they are and begin counting down the days until Opening Day.

For those who might be joining them, it’s 15.

“I’m ready to go,” Maholm said. “You get to five innings, you’re ready to get out of here and get going. You get the itch for Opening Day to get here. Every spring is different. It seems like you’re working on stuff. I’m feeling good and ready to get out of here.”

***

Third baseman Pedro Alvarez made another couple of really nice defensive plays on Wednesday. Though Alvarez has had a rough few days at the plate recently, his defense does (at least to an unprofessional eye) appear to be steadying.

Fill-in manager Woody Huyke had this to say afterward: “He is very much improved. I saw him in the big leagues last year on TV and he’s very improved. [Third base/infield coach] Nick [Leyva] and I were talking about it. He’s doing very well. It takes time. You’ve got to be patient.”

***

A few notes about Thursday’s intrasquad game:

  • Jeff Karstens, Evan Meek, Fernando Nieve, Brian Burres and Tyler Yates are all written down as scheduled pitchers. I’m assuming they’ll be split among the two teams and pitch against each other.
  • Pedro Ciriaco is scheduled to make his first appearance in center field in the game. Steve Pearce will play third. Others scheduled to play in the game include: Corey Wimberly, Garrett Jones, Josh Fields, Garrett Atkins, Josh Rodriguez and Wyatt Toregas.

***

Here you will find the latest Pirates Inbox, with a variety of questions/concerns addressed in it. You will find notes about the following on pirates.com later this afternoon: A lineup to be set soon; Huyke takes over as manager of the day; Injury updates on Ryan Doumit, Chris Snyder and James McDonald; and a look at how Clint Hurdle is going to test the versatility of this bunch.

Follow me on Twitter: @LangoschMLB

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