Today was split squad day. The Pirates got stomped, and nearly no-hit, by a team mostly made up of Yankees’ prospects and backups. That game, before an overwhelmingly Yankees crowd at LECOM Park, finished at 9-1. In the other game, the Pirates tied the Blue Jays in Dunedin, 2-2.
The Yankee game was pretty short on redeeming value. The hitters looked suspiciously like a Ben Cherington offense, with lots of whiffery and almost no hard contact. Oneil Cruz drove one to the track in left-center his first time up, and Enmanuel Terrero and Maikol Escotto each lined out hard to left in the eighth.
Matt Fraizer led off the ninth with the Pirates’ first hit, an infield single. Nick Gonzales followed that by hitting into a double play, then Drew Maggi provided the team’s only run with a home run.
Starter Mitch Keller gave up a solo shot to the game’s first hitter, 21-year-old Anthony Volpe, then a two-run homer in the second to Rafael Ortega. Keller repeatedly got to 0-2 or 1-2, thanks mainly to a 96-98 mph fastball, but he struggled to put hitters away. He left with two outs in the second and Tyler Samaniego got a one-pitch grounder to end the inning. Keller then came back for the third inning, struck out Aaron Hicks, then left for Samaniego again. #Sandlotrules. Samaniego got the last two outs of that inning.
Samaniego looked good, throwing 93-94 mph with an effective slider. Yerry De Los Santos, who came next, did not. De Los Santos mostly threw only 91-92 mph and his slider wasn’t close enough to the strike zone to induce anybody to swing at it. He got away with only one run allowed in his one inning because Travis Swaggerty uncorked a literal strike, on the fly, from center field, scuttling a would-be sacrifice fly.
Colin Holderman, Jose Hernandez, Wil Crowe and Angel Perdomo all pitched well. Holderman was charged with an unearned run when Cruz threw wildly on a grounder with two out, then the next hitter chopped a triple over first. He threw 97-99.
Hernandez, Crowe and Perdomo all had scoreless innings. The Rule 5 guy did what he needs to do to, throwing 96-98 with reasonably good control and a slider that was more effective than his first outing. Perdomo needed only six pitches in his inning, which is promising because control has always been his issue.
Tyler Chatwood had a rough ninth, giving up a grand slam.
The lineup was somewhat close to what we could see once the season starts. Ji-Man Choi made his first spring appearance as the DH and Tucupita Marcano got the call at second. Both went hitless, obviously.
Swaggerty unfortunately came up empty twice, although there was the great throw. With none of the other young outfielders doing anything so far, he’s got a genuine opportunity.
In the Toronto game, Roansy Contreras was a bit ragged in the first and balked in a run. He had an easy second. Colin Selby followed with his first spring appearance, allowing a run on two hits.
After that, the Pirates had a bunch of guys throw scoreless innings, or in the case of Mike Burrows, two innings. Burrows managed despite not having much control, as he threw only 14 of 27 pitches for strikes.
Dauri Moreta, making his first Pirate appearance, and Yohan Ramirez each had a perfect innings with two strikeouts. According to gameday, Moreta threw a lot of changeups and sliders, along with a 93-94 mph sinker. Moreta’s fastball got blasted last year, so the plan may be for him to go heavily with secondary stuff. So far, the majority of the bullpen candidates aren’t doing anything to hurt themselves.
The last two scoreless innings came from Jared Jones and John O’Reilly.
The hitters weren’t much better than in the LECOM game. They got one run on a throwing error and one on a bases-loaded walk to Chris Owings.
Like the other young outfielders, Canaan Smith-Njigba didn’t do anything to help himself, fanning all three times up. That works out fine for Connor Joe, who had a single and a double. Miguel Andujar — another player who may be looking at an opportunity — went 1-for-3.
Liover Peguero continued to have a good spring, getting one hit, then later stealing third and coming around on a wild throw.
Having followed the Pirates fanatically since 1965, Wilbur Miller is one of the fast-dwindling number of fans who’ve actually seen good Pirate teams. He’s even seen Hall-of-Fame Pirates who didn’t get traded mid-career, if you can imagine such a thing. His first in-person game was a 5-4, 11-inning win at Forbes Field over Milwaukee (no, not that one). He’s been writing about the Pirates at various locations online for over 20 years. It has its frustrations, but it’s certainly more cathartic than writing legal stuff. Wilbur is retired and now lives in Bradenton with his wife and three temperamental cats.
The Ween is really pulling for Swags.
Swaggerty vs Joe battle is heated
IMO it should be Swaggerty vs Suwinski, Joe should make the team
Glad I missed the game(s). Altho, I did like watching TSwag’s assist on Twitter.
I hope they give Drew Maggi a chance to play a few innings and get an at bat in the majors this year. Just like they did in little league. Every kid at least got that. Just give him a “Rudy” type moment. Maggi even would sound good in a chant like Rudy.
If Drew refuses assignment to Indy, does that mean
We ain’t gonna play Maggi in the Farm no more?
He’s 68, but he says he’s 54.
Be funny if all the players throw their jerseys at Shelton and say give Mags my jersey.