FT. MYERS, Fla. — Trevor Williams had his most successful outing of the spring on Wednesday, striking out eight Minnesota Twins in 5.1 innings of work at Hammond Stadium.
Williams didn’t have his most efficient outing of the year, taking 97 pitches to get to the first batter of the sixth inning. But his stated goals for the appearance were to get close to 100 pitches and get up and down six times, so in that regard, it was mission accomplished.
“At this point in Spring Training, we’re pretty much in season mode,” Williams said. “Opening Day is a week from today. It’s gotta be dialed in. We accomplished what we wanted to accomplish today, it was just extremely inefficient.”
Catcher Elias Diaz said Williams had all of his pitches working with the exception of the two-seam fastball, which wasn’t consistent against Minnesota. That prompted the strikeout-heavy approach.
“His four-seam was right where he wanted,” Diaz said. “His slider was tight. His changeup was good. The only pitch that wasn’t consistent was the two-seamer. He had everything down the in zone. He continued to throw the ball down and he got a lot of results tonight.”
Williams isn’t really known as a strikeout heavy pitcher, but he has shown the ability to put up big single-game totals in the past and it sounds like he might be looking for more of that.
“Strikeouts are good. When I went in today, I didn’t really have a lot of swing-and-misses in the spring so far. I really didn’t have a lot of weird swings. Going into today, it was force the weak contact and force the weird swings. We got that.”
Diaz said that Williams has always had the ability to get swings and misses when he has to, it’s just been a matter of him gaining confidence and experience at this level.
“It’s been there, but he’s got more experience now,” Diaz said. “He knows how he has to attack the hitter. He knows how he has to pitch sometimes. He has more confidence and he knows what he has to do.”
ADVENTURES IN THE OUTFIELD
With the Pirates playing their first evening game of 2018, Pirates right fielder Gregory Polanco had his first experience of the year dealing with a setting sun while playing the field.
It didn’t go so well.
Polanco missed one ball in foul territory completely, had another glance off his glove for a three-base error, yet another that fell 20-30 feet in front of him when he lost it in the sun and a fourth that he eventually caught after taking a circuitous route.
After the sun went down, Polanco didn’t get a chance for redemption at a fly ball, but he did track down a ball in the corner to cut down Eduardo Escobar at second base.
The night start wasn’t just an issue for Polanco in the field. Williams said it took a bit to get his body clock adjusted to playing an evening game after being used to waking up at 5:30 a.m. for the last month.
“We were eating dinner last night and I was thinking, ‘I have to pitch in 24 hours and my body is so asleep right now,” Williams said. “To say that I didn’t feel it, I’d be lying. You have to do certain things to your body in order to wake itself up. It’s nice pitching at night. It’s good to get acclimated to that.”
ON THE MEND
Relief pitcher A.J. Schugel has begun playing catch on flat ground at 120 feet, trainer Todd Tomczyk said at LECOM Park Wednesday afternoon. Schugel pitched just once this spring and left his first outing with right shoulder discomfort. Tomczyk said Schugel will likely start the season on the disabled list.
Tomczyk also reported that Joe Musgrove had no physical issues after pitching five innings on Tuesday with below-normal velocity. Musgrove has made two appearance since returning from shoulder discomfort.