The Pirates had a busy Spring Training day today:
LHP (starter) Garrett Olson was claimed off waivers from Seattle. Olson is a 27-year-old California native who was the Orioles’ 1st round pick in the 2005 draft. He made his major league debut in July 2007, and split both the 2007 and 2008 season between Balitmore and AAA Norfolk. His combined stats for Baltimore: 10-13 record in 31 starts, 165 innings, 6.87 ERA, 111 K, 90 BB. And combined stats for Norfolk: 10-9 record in 29 starts, 164.1 innings, 3.12 ERA, 159 K, 55 BB. One big problem, though, is that he surrendered 35 homer runs over those two years. At the beginning of 2009, Olson was traded to the Cubs, and 10 days later was traded to the Mariners (with Ronny Cedeno) to the Mariners. He split both the 2009 and 2010 seasons between Seattle and AAA Tacoma. In 2009, he started 9 games for Tacoma, earning a 2-3 record and a 4.94 ERA, but in Seattle, he was also used in relief. He made 11 starts and 20 relief appearances for a total of 80.1 innings – and gave up 19 home runs. Olson made 6 starts and 6 relief appearances for Tacoma in 2010, then made 35 relief appearances in Seattle. His record in Seattle was 0-3 with 1 save, and a 4.54 ERA. In 37.2 innings, he allowed 6 homers, 15 BB, with 21 K. Throughout all these seasons, Olson allowed about as many or more hits as innings pitched: 79 hits in 80.1 innings in Seattle in 2009, and 42 hits in 37.2 innings in 2010. His overall major league total is 10.53 hits/9 innings. The Pirates plan to have Olson compete for a spot as a lefty out of the bullpen. Scott Olsen (oh, we’re going to have fun confusing those two) and Joe Beimel are also in consideration but have lost time time this spring due to injury. Brian Burres and Justin Thomas are also in the mix. In order to make a spot for Olson on the 40-man roster, the Pirates placed Kevin Hart on the 60-day DL. Olson is out of options, which is why the Mariners had to put him on waivers. If he does not make the Pirates’ active roster out of camp, then he will have to go on waivers again. The hits and the homers are concerning, and the Pirates will have to see how Olson does in some spring appearances in the next two weeks.
Phillies 3, Pirates 2
The Phillies rallied in the bottom of the 9th for a come-from-behind win over the Pirates in Clearwater, FL this afternoon. With Chris Leroux on the mound, the first two batters of the frame both singles. Former Pirate/Indian Erik Kratz bounced a pinch-hit grounder to third, but instead of going for the double play, 3B Jeremy Farrell went for the tag of the runner going from second to third. The runner avoided the tag but was called out anyway because he went out of the basepath. That left runners on first and second with one out. The next batter slapped a grounder to second, and though 2B Josh Harrison made a great stab to keep the ball from going into right field, he was only able to make the out at first. With two runners in scoring position, Leroux gave up a single up the middle, and both runners (including Kratz) scored, for the walk-off win.
Blue Jays 5, Pirates 0
The Pirates were held to just 4 hits in this afternoon’s game against the Blue Jays at McKechnie Field. 3B Pedro Alvarez had two of the hits — a two-out single up the middle in the 1st inning, and a single on a pop up in the 6th. The single in the 1st moved CF Andrew McCutchen, who had walked, to third base, and the single in the 6th followed a line drive double by 2B Pedro Ciriaco and moved Ciriaco to third base. Both times, however, the innings ended without the Pirates being able to get the run in. The only other hit in the game was by 2B Brian Friday, who led off the top of the 9th by beating out a grounder to third. After a strikeout, 1B Andy Marte walked, putting two runners on base. But pinch-hitter Gift Ngoepe struck out and C Jason Jaramillo grounded out to end the game.
James McDonald made the start and was responsible for 4 of the Jays’ runs. He gave up a double, two singles, a walk, and a sacrifice fly for 2 runs in the top of the 1st. He retired the side in order in the 2nd, but got into trouble again in the 3rd. A double and a throwing error by SS Corey Wimberly gave the Jays a run in the 3rd. With two outs and a runner on second base, McDonald had reached his pitch limit (about 50 pitches), and he was relieved by Justin Thomas. Thomas gave up an RBI single and a walk, then ended the inning with a strikeout. Chris Resop surrendered the remaining Toronto run in the 5th. Back-to-back doubles by former Pirate Jose Bautista (who went 3-for-3) and Travis Snyder brought in that run. Resop struck out the next two batters, and ended the inning with a ground out. Joel Hanrahan, Aaron Thompson, Daniel McCutchen, Justin Wilson, and Jeff Locke each pitched one scoreless inning for the Pirates. McCutchen gave up two hits and Locke gave up one. Wilson walked one batter and struck out the other three he faced.
Also in the game: SS Chase d’Arnaud, LF Gorkys Hernandez, CF Alex Presley, RF Andrew Lambo, 3B Garrett Atkins.
Twins 4, Pirates 2
The Pirates fell to a 3-3 record in Grapefruit League play this afternoon at McKechnie field. Both teams posted 9 hits, but the Twins did a better job of pushing runs across. Ross Ohlendorf made the start and was charged with the loss, but the only run he gave up was unearned, and 4 of the 5 outs he recorded were strikeouts. The run came in the top of the 1st, on a walk, a passed ball, and an RBI double. Ohlendorf got the first two outs in the top of the 2nd, then gave up a single, and by then he had reached his pitch limit. Mike Dubee, up from minor league camp, finished the inning for Ohlendorf, blowing three pitches past Jason Repko for a strikeout. Tony Watson pitched the 3rd inning, and gave up a run on a walk and an RBI double.
The Pirates got one run back in the bottom of the 5th. RF Andrew Lambo started the rally with a ground rule double down the left field line, and then he scored on LF Jose Tabata’s single up the middle. Mike Crotta pitched 2 scoreless innings, working around a hit in each (4th and 5th). Joel Hanrahan took over for the 6th. The first batter he faced, 2B Luke Hughes, drove a 3-2 pitch over the left field wall to give the Twins a 3-1 lead. After the homer, Hanrahan got two outs, then loaded the bases with a walk and two singles. Hanrahan was relieved by another minor league pitcher, Tom Boleska, who needed just one pitch to end the inning with a fly out, leaving all three runners stranded.
Jose Veras pitched a 1-2-3 inning in the top of the 8th for the Pirates. Justin Thomas gave up another unearned run in the top of the 8th. With one out, a fly ball to center field should have been either an out or a harmless single, but CF Gorkys Hernandez had trouble with the windy conditions. He dropped the ball, then when he tried to pick it up off the ground, he dropped it twice more. That allowed the runner to reach third base (3-base error). An RBI single brought him in from third base. Chris Leroux finished things up by retiring the side in the top of the 9th. The Pirates rallied again in the bottom of the 9th. With one out, DH Steve Pearce lifted a double into center field. C Dusty Brown lined a single into right field, plating Pearce from second base. Pedro Ciriaco pinch-ran for Brown, and he reached second base on RF Starling Marte’s ground out, but another ground out by LF Alex Presley ended the game. Marte had singled in the 7th inning, but was out at second on a force play.
Also getting into the game: SS Corey Wimberly, SS Chase d’Arnaud, 3B Garrett Atkins, 2B Brian Friday, and 1B Josh Fields.
Rays 9, Pirates 5
The Pirates opened the official Grapefruit League season with a loss to the Rays. The Pirates were held to just 6 hits. All but two were singles and all but one were by the established major leaguers. 1B Garrett Atkins smacked a ground rule double for an RBI in the top of the 9th, and C Dusty Brown singled moments later. LF Jose Tabata, 2B Neil Walker, 1B Lyle Overbay, and C Chris Snyder had the other hits. LF Alex Presley walked twice in two trips to the plate; the second walk came in the top of the 9th, with two outs and a runner on second base, and the Pirates management watching carefully to see how he’d handle the situation.
Charlie Morton pitched the first two innings for the Pirates. He had the lead-off batter reach base in both innings, on a walk and a single, but both times he got out of the innings courtesy of a double play. Brad Lincoln worked around 2 singles to keep the Rays from scoring in the 3rd, but gave up a solo home run to Evan Longoria in the 4th. Overall, an encouraging outing for Morton, and not too bad for Lincoln. Chris Resop also gave up a solo home run in the 5th, which tied the score at 2-2. After Daniel Moskos pitched a scoreless inning, Daniel McCutchen got into trouble in the 7th. A double and two walks loaded the bases, and another double cleared them, giving the Rays a 5-2 lead. Justin Thomas also struggled in his inning, the 8th, though the 4 runs that came in were all unearned, after a fielding error by 3B Josh Fields. Tom Boleska, up from minor league camp, finished the inning, giving up a single before getting the final out.
Other minor leaguers getting some playing time: 2B Josh Rodriguez, CF Gorkys Hernandez, SS Pedro Ciriaco.
A quick look at what some of the Pirates’ players and friends were up to in the Venezuelan League recently:
Anthony Claggett joined Los Bravos de Margarita, and has made two relief appearances. On the 17th, he pitched one inning, giving up only a 2-out double, then finishing the inning with a groundout. On the 21st, Claggett pitched 2 innings and allowed only a single to former Indy Indian Jorge Cortes, who he then erased in a double play.
Los Tigres de Aragua got two hits each from1B Hector Gimenez, SS Ronny Cedeno, and C Raul Chavez on the 17th. Unfortunately their only run in the game was Gimenez’s solo home run. Brian Bass made the start for Los Tigres on the 19th. He pitched 5 innings and gave up 4 runs — one run on a pair of singles and his own throwing error in the 1st inning, and 3 runs on a homer then two walks and 3 singles in the 3rd. The score was tied when Bass left the game. Lastings Milledge contributed a 2-run homer for Los Tigres in the 1st. Aragua won the game in the bottom of the 10th on a walk-off RBI single by Cortes.
Also on the 19th, Sean Gallagher suffered his third loss of the season for Los Navegantes. He pitched 4 innings against Los Aguilas del Zulia and gave up 4 runs on 8 hits. In the 3rd inning, he allowed a 2-run homer, then in the 4th, Gallagher gave up 2 more runs on a walk and 3 singles.
Justin Thomas earned the win (his first in Venezuela) for Los Bravos de Margarita on Saturday the 20th. He was first charged with a blown save when he gave up a solo home run in the bottom of the 7th to Los Navegantes del Magallanes. But he was then credited with the win when Margarita hit a 3-run homer in the top of the 7th. Corey Hamman also was charged with a blown save for Magallanes in that same game, when he faced 3 Margarita batters in the 5th inning and gave up a homer, a single, and a double. Jean Machi pitched the top of the 9th for Magallanes and got three ground outs.