BRADENTON, Fla. — Left-hander Erik Bedard gave up just one hit –a two-out single to left field by the Minnesota Twins’ Josh Willingham in the first inning –over three scoreless frames with three strikeouts in his second Grapefruit League start of the season at McKechnie Field on Saturday.
“30 pitches, and he had good command of his fastball,” Pirates Manager Clint Hurdle said. “I thought he spun the ball extremely well, which made his fastball work even more quickly. It was a very effective outing for Erik.”
Bedard said he feels he progressed from his first outing, where he allowed two runs on a hit with two walks over two innings on against the Toronto Blue Jays his last trip to the mound.
The results, yeah, but I felt the same,” Bedard said. “It’s all the same in the spring. You just try to get your arm in shape, and get ready for the season.”
“Nothing specific,” Bedard said on what he focused on during his outing. “Just trying to get all my pitches in the strike zone and get my arm strength.”
The Pirates have not yet set an opening day starter for April 5 at PNC Park. Bedard, who has gotten the Opening Day nod’s with the Seattle Mariners and Baltimore Orioles, said he doesn’t prefer when he starts, just wants as spot in the rotation.
“It don’t matter,” Bedard said. “As long as I’m in the rotation, that’s all I care about.”
Casey McGehee, who got the start at third today, was solid both on the field and at the plate. McGehee hit two doubles on the day off the Twins’ Terry Doyle.
After hitting his first double in the 2nd, McGehee scored on a sac fly by infielder Chase d’Arnaud. McGehee’s second double of the game scored Yamaico Navarro from third base in the 3rd inning. Not only did he look good at the plate, McGehee also made several great plays on the hot corner.
“I think the spacing of amount [of playing time], him trusting himself a little bit more, it’s definitely going to help,” Hurdle said. “We’re going to run more guys over there as we continue to move through spring training.”
“I think he’s a capable defender [at third]. He went way out for a ball. I’ve seen him make a play on a slow roller. I’ve seen him make all the plays that you want a third baseman to make. And there’s plenty of arm strength to carry the throw to first base.”
The Bucs combined for 11 hits on the day, marking for the sixth straight game the Pirates collected at least 10 hits.
“It’s nice to see,” Hurdle said. “We’ve had our challenges offensively. We had them in spring training last year. We’ve connected. Our at-bats are better. The ownership of the at-bats are better throughout the lineup. We’ve had more two-strike hits. We’re putting more balls into play. We’re getting down the line. We believe these guys have a better understanding of it, and we’re having some early success with it.”
South paw Jo-Jo Reyes pitched three innings from the Pirates ‘pen today, but his results were not similar to his first start on Monday. Former Bucco infielder Steve Pearce, who signed a minor league deal with Minnesota over the offseason, hit a sac fly to center off Reyes in the 5th. The Twins plated three more runs off Reyes after Danny Valencia hit a homer to left center field in the 6th. Overall, Reyes allowed four runs on five hits over three innings.
- Relief: Joel Hanrahan: IP, 2K; Jo-Jo Reyes: 3IP, 5H, 4R, BB, 2K, HR; Jason Grilli: IP, BB; Juan Cruz IP, 2K
- Casey McGehee went 3-for-3 with two doubles and an RBI; Nate McLouth went 2-for-2 with a walk.
- The Pirates entered the game leading the Grapefruit League with a .310 batting average and tallied at least 10 hits for the sixth straight game; still hitting .310 as a team after eight games this spring.
Sunday Game Info:
- The Pirates will face the Tampa Bay Rays at 1:05 in Port Charlotte. Right-hander Kevin Correia will start for the Bucs against righty Jeff Niemann. Following Correia in relief are: Justin Wilson, Daniel Moskos, Jared Hughes, Bryan Morris and Doug Slaten.
- Pirates Lineup tomorrow vs. Rays:
Alex Presley 7, Jose Tabata 9, Andrew McCutchen 8, Neil Walker 4, Garrett Jones 3, Rod Barajas 2, Pedro Alvarez 5, Clint Barmes 6, Kevin Correia 1
- Extras: Tony Sanchez, Gorkys Hernandez, Josh Harrison, Chase d’Arnaud, Nick Evans, Jordy Mercer, Matt Hague, Anderson Hernandez, Ramon Cabrera, Brandon Boggs, Robbie Grossman