Tuesday, April 3, 2012

SCF leads Orioles through five innings

The State College of Florida Manatees lead the Baltimore Orioles 2-1 after five innings.

However, the Orioles are using their own pitchers against their hitters.

They've also used catcher Ronny Paulino in multiple spots in SCF's batting order, and the fifth also featured starter Tsuyoshi Wada recording five outs in what looked like an effort to stretch his pitch count out.

The Manatees plated two runs in the fourth inning after three hits, a groundout and wild pitch.

State College of Florida at Baltimore Orioles

This is Jason Dill, blogging from Ed Smith Stadium as the State College of Florida Manatees square off against the Baltimore Orioles in the O's final game of the 2012 spring season in Sarasota.

SCF isn't using any pitchers after winning a 12-inning Suncoast Conference game last night against Polk State, having another conference game on Wednesday and with six players injured.


1. Danny Bodziak CF
2. Ronny Paulino C (catching for Baltimore pitchers)
3. Orlando Rivera 2B
4. Tyler Rocklein RF
5. Conner Hale 3B
6. Andrew McNett LF
7. Devon Raftery DH
8. Kory Britton 1B
9. Dalton Busby SS

LHP Tsuyoshi Wada


1. Robert Andino 2B
2. J.J. Hardy SS
3. Nick Johnson 1B
4. Adam Jones CF
5. Matt Wieters C
6. Mark Reynolds DH
7. Nolan Reimold LF
8. Wilson Betemit 3B
9. Endy Chavez RF

RHP Jason Hammel

Saturday, March 31, 2012

Goodbye, Pirates

Alex Presley homered and Garrett Jones drove in a pair of runs as the Pirates and Baltimore Orioles played to a 6-6, nine-inning tie during the final Grapefruit League of the spring at McKechnie Field.
The split-squad Pirates also lost 15-3 to the Minnesota Twins in Fort Myers, running their record to 8-18-2.
Rod Barajas had two hits for the Pirates in a game that included a 46-minute rain delay.
The Pirates drew 82,390 fans this spring, the third-largest total in McKechnie Field history, for an average of 5,492, falling just short of the mark set last year (5,500).
Saturday's attendance was 3,720.

STAR OF THE GAME: Minor-league free agent Jose Diaz tossed a scoreless inning Saturday, giving him 4 1/3 shutout innings this spring. Opponents went 1-for-14 this spring against Diaz, who spent all spring in minor-league camp.
PROSPECT OF THE GAME: Former Bradenton Marauder Aaron Baker, who was traded to the Orioles last year in exchange for Derrek Lee, hit his first home run of the spring. Baker hit 15 home runs and drove in 73 runs with the Marauders last year prior to the July trade.
QUOTE OF THE GAME: "I'm trying to get out of the way, and I bunted. How you do that, I don't know." - Pirates starter Erik Bedard, who bunted in a run Saturday.
UP NEXT: The Pirates play their final exhibition game in Florida today when they head to Dunedin to face the Toronto Blue Jays. Jeff Karstens will pitch for Pittsburgh against Toronto's Brandon Morrow. The Pirates play exhibition games Monday and Tuesday in Philadelphia against the Phillies, who come to PNC Park on Thursday for each team's regular-season opener.

Game on!

(photo by John Lembo)

- It appears McKechnie Field's first rain delay of the spring is over. The tarp is being lifted, the sky has brightened somewhat and both teams are back in their dugouts, so it appears baseball is back. Pirates manager Clint Hurdle and Orioles skipper Buck Showalter are talking to the umpires, but it appears they are going to try and finish the game, which the Pirates lead 6-5 after six innings.

- Today's attendance was 3,720, bringing McKechnie's total this spring to 82,390, third highest all-time behind 2011 (88,003) and '09 (87,206). Average attendance this spring was 5,492, just missing last year's record mark of 5,500. There were six sellouts this spring, one shy of the record set in 2008 and '07.

No swinging in the rain...

(photo by John Lembo) - After a spring full of sunshine, it is starting to pour here during the final Grapefruit League of the season at McKechnie Field, where the Pirates lead the Orioles 6-5 after six innings. So we have our first rain delay!
- Interesting play in the fourth. Runners at the corners and Pirates pitcher Erik Bedard laid down a bunt. Rod Barajas, who was on third, waiting for Orioles catcher Ronny Paulino to throw to first, and then darted down the line, just beating the throw. Clint Barmes, the runner at first, decided to try third. Paulino spun and made an errant throw that wound up in left field, allowing two runs to score on a ball that left Bedard's bat and traveled about six feet.
God, I love baseball.
- Garrett Jones has two RBIs and Alex Presley has a home run for the Pirates.

The end is near...

(photo by John Lembo)

This is it, the Pirates' spring finale at McKechnie Field. They play the Baltimore Orioles at 1:05 p.m. and head to Dunedin on Sunday to meet the Toronto Blue Jays before playing two more exhibition games in Philadelphia.

The squad is split today, with some of the guys meeting the Minnesota Twins in Fort Myers.

But plenty of Pirates are here to bid farewell to the Friendly City...


Endy Chavez, cf

Nolan Reimold, lf

J.J. Hardy, ss

Nick Johnson, dh

Wilson Betemit, 3b

Chris Davis, 1b

Ronny Paulino, c

Jai Miller, rf

Robert Andino, 2b


Alex Presley, lf

Nate McLouth, rf

Andrew McCutchen, cf

Neil Walker, 2b

Casey McGehee, 3b

Garrett Jones, 1b

Rod Barajas, c

Clint Barmes, ss

Erik Bedard, p

Friday, March 30, 2012

Tony Watson turns in best outing of spring for Pirates

Tony Watson turned in strong outing for the Pirates in making his first start of the spring.

The lefty was perfect against the Tampa Bay Rays in his two innings of work striking out two and not allowing a base runner.

He was followed by Jason Grilli, who gave up only one hit and walked one in two innings. The only run of the game came on fourth inning homer by Casey McGehee off Rays starter Matt Moore.

Pirates get last spring chance to beat Tampa Rays

Matt Moore, slated for the fourth spot in the Rays starting rotation, started against the Pirates today at McKechnie Field in the final Grapefruit League meeting between the teams.

This is the 13th time in 26 spring games that the Pirates have faced a lefty starter.

The Rays also had Reid Brignac starting at shortstop. He and Sean Rodriguez have been battling for the job. Brignac has had foot problems, but the job may be split anyway. He had a an error in the second inning.

Lefty Tony Watson is making his first start and eighth appearance of the spring for the Pirates. He has gone 0-0 with a 6.75 ERA in his previous outings.

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Two to go...

(photo by John Lembo) Pirates starter James McDonald allowed 10 earned runs in 3 2/3 innings as the Pirates lost 11-6 to the Minnesota Twins in front of 4,241 fans Thursday at McKechnie Field.
McDonald walked seven, allowed seven hits and hit a batter less than a week after taking a no-hitter into the sixth inning against the Houston Astros.
Pedro Alvarez had two hits for the Pirates (8-17).
STAR OF THE GAME: Minnesota’s Brian Dinkleman homered and drove in four runs for the Twins, raising his spring average to .361.
PROSPECT OF THE GAME: Greg Picart, who collected the first hit in Bradenton Marauders’ history in 2010, doubled, tripled, drove in a run and scored a run Thursday. The 26-year-old hit .218 in 56 games last year with the Pirates’ Double-A team in Altoona.
QUOTE OF THE DAY: “Sometimes, these things happen.” – McDonald on his outing.
UP NEXT: The Tampa Bay Rays make their third and final trip to Bradenton today for a 1:05 p.m. start. Brad Lincoln will start against the Rays’ Matt Moore, who pitched at McKechnie Field during the 2010 Florida State League playoffs while with the Charlotte Stone Crabs.

Where did everyone go?

(photo by John Lembo) - Doesn't appear that both of McKechnie's attendance record will be broken this spring. The ballpark had drawn 69,902 fans heading into today's game with the Twins, and as you can see by the above pic, it's the furthest thing from a sellout here at McKechnie. That being said, the Pirates have averaged 5,825 fans per game, which puts the mark of 5,500, established last season, very much in reach. The Pirates have two games left in Bradenton after today, and Friday's meeting with the Rays should bring 'em in, especially since Tampa Bay is starting Rookie-of-the-Year in waiting, Matt Moore. McKechnie Field drew an all-time record 88,003 fans last spring.
- Tell me if this makes sense: The Pirates play their final Grapefruit League game in Florida on Sunday when they head to Dunedin. Then they travel to Philadelphia to play two more exhibition games against the Phillies in Citizens Bank Park before the Phillies head to Pittsburgh to open the season against the Pirates. Weird.
- Pirates starter James McDonald, so good last week against Houston, had a start to forget today. He walked seven while giving up seven runs on seven hits in 3 2/3 innings. He also plunked Danny Valencia in the back of the helmet with a curveball and served up a pair of no-doubter home runs to Brian Dinkelman and Brian Dozier. Twins lead the Pirates 7-1 heading in the top of the fourth inning.

Pirates cut four more

(photo by John Lembo)

Former Bradenton Marauder Eric Fryer, above, was one of four Pittsburgh Pirates reassigned to minor-league camp prior to today's game with the Minnesota Twins.

Fryer, a catcher, became the first Marauder to crack the Pirates' roster last summer.

Third baseman/catcher Jake Fox, infielder Nick Evans and pitcher Ryota Igarashi were also reassigned today.

The Pirates now have 30 players on the roster.

Three to go...

(photo by John Lembo)

Hard to believe, but another spring at McKechnie Field is about to come to a close.

This is John Lembo, and I'll be blogging live from today's game between the Pirates and the Minnesota Twins.

The Pirates host the Rays on Friday and the Orioles on Saturday, and that's it. So get a glimpse while you still can.



Ben Revere, cf

Alexi Casilla, 2b

Danny Valencia, dh

Chris Parmelee, 1b

Luke Hughes, 3b

Angel Morales, rf

Brian Dinkelman, lf

Brian Dozier, ss

Drew Butera, c

Matt Maloney, p


Alex Presley, lf

Josh Harrison, ss

Jose Tabata, rf

Casey McGehee, 1b

Neil Walker, 2b

Nate McLouth, cf

Pedro Alvarez, 3b

Michael McKenry, c

James McDonald, p

Monday, March 26, 2012

2 hits + 3 errors = defeat

(photo by John Lembo) The Pirates mustered just two hits in a 4-1 loss to the Baltimore Orioles on Monday night in front of 5,927 fans at McKechnie Field.
The Pirates (8-14) committed three errors, giving them 26 this spring. Andrew McCutchen walked, stole second and scored on Garrett Jones’ groundout in the seventh.
Neil Walker doubled and Michael McKenry singled for the Pirates.
Matt Weiters went 3-for-4 for the Orioles (10-9).
STAR OF THE GAME: Pirates starter Erik Bedard pitched into the seventh inning, allowing seven hits and two runs, one earned. He struck out five and walked one. Bedard will start Opening Day on April 5 against the Philadelphia Phillies.
PROPSECT OF THE GAME: Gregory Polanco gave the fans the thrill when he flied out to the right-field wall in the ninth inning. Polanco, 20, appeared in 48 games last year with the GCL Pirates and three more with the Pirates’ New York-Penn League affiliate in State College.
QUOTE OF THE DAY: “I just do the same thing every time. If it goes good, it goes good. If it goes bad, it goes bad.” - Bedard after Monday’s start.
UP NEXT: The Pirates head to Clearwater today to play the Philadelphia Phillies at 1:05 p.m. Chris Resop will start against the Phillies’ Cliff Lee.

Bedard pitches action over words

(photo by Chris O'Meara, AP) Erik Bedard seems like a nice enough guy.
But if you're looking for someone to fill a notebook with killer quotes or pepper a story with great insight, you're standing at the wrong locker.
Bedard tossed 6-plus effective innings Monday against the Baltimore Orioles in his first start since being named the Pirates' Opening Day starter.
He just didn't have a whole lot to say about it.
"Like I do every game, I just changed speeds. Hopefully, they won't hit it," Bedard said. "(Monday) there was a lot of swings and misses early, and that was because of the sun."
The interview lasted one minute, 48 seconds. But Bedard laughed and smiled the whole way through. He's not rude or nasty. He didn't act as if he's better than anybody.
Some guys just aren't comfortable talking about themselves. And Bedard is one of the them, according to this story by Beaver County Times correspondent John Perrotto.
According to the story, Bedard was born in Canada and spent most of his time on his uncle's poultry farm in Quebec.
"I just like to keep life simple," he told Perrotto.
Most of today's stars were stars in high school. They began taking questions from the media when they were teenagers and grew accustomed to all the attention by the time they reached college.
Not Bedard. He wasn't a top recruit out of high school, so he walked on to the baseball team at Norwalk (Conn.) Community Techincal College, and was a sixth-round draft pick of the Orioles in 1999.
Now he's in Pittsburgh, and it could be a good fit. Bedard has been effective when healthy - he posted a 15-11 record and 3.76 ERA while making a career-best 33 starts with Baltimore in '06 - and the Pirates need an experienced arm to help hold down the fort while A.J. Burnett recovers from eye surgery.
And Pittsburgh could be a good place for a guy who likes the simple life.
"I've heard a lot of good things about Pittsburgh. It sounds like a place I'll like," Bedard told Perrotto.
Until then, he'll make most of his noise on the mound.

I love the (baseball) nightlife...

(photo by John Lembo) - I love night games. Love them. And I love them at McKechnie Field, which as Pirates catcher Eric Fryer said, is a great place whether it's day or night.
(Fryer would know: He spent 83 games with the high Single-A Marauders in 2010).
I'm glad the Pirates play just one night game a year here at McKechnie. Do something more than once and it's no longer a novelty, and in a way, no longer special.
- Manatee football coach Joe Kinnan fired a perfect strike during the ceremonial first pitch prior to the game. The Hurricanes were honored for winning the Class 7A state title last year. Kinnan was so worried he wouldn't throw a strike that he asked assistant coaches Dennis Stallard and Chuck Sandberg if they wanted to do it instead.
Both declined.
- Erik Bedard is looking sharp in his first start since being named the Pirates' Opening Day starter. He has allowed no runs and four hits through six innings, and struck out Adam Jones with the bases loaded to close the sixth.
- It's 0-0 heading into the bottom of the sixth. Orioles starter Tommy Hunter has allowed one hit, a double off the bat of Neil Walker that glanced off Jones' glove in centerfield.

When the lights go down in the city...

(photo by John Lembo) ...they fire up over McKechnie Field.
Hello, folks. John Lembo here, blogging from the Pirates' lone home night game of the spring 7:05 p.m. tonight against the Baltimore Orioles
Manatee's football team will be honored about 15 minutes before first pitch for winning the Class 7A state title.

The lineups:

Nolan Reimold, lf
J.J. Hardy, ss
Nick Markakis, rf
Adam Jones, cf
Matt Wieters, c
Mark Reynolds, 3b
Wilson Betemit, 1b
Ronny Paulino, dh
Robert Andino, 2b
Tommy Hunter, p

Alex Presley, lf
Jose Tabata, cf
Andrew McCutchen, cf
Neil Walker, 2b
Garrett Jones, 1b
Rod Barajas, c
Pedro Alvarez, 3b
Clint Barmes, ss
Erik Bedard, p

Saturday, March 24, 2012

over and out...

(photo by John Lembo)

The Pirates watched another ninth-inning lead slip away Saturday when they lost 5-4 in 10 innings to the Houston Astros in front of 4,107 fans at McKechnie Field.
Scott Moore hit a game-tying three-run home run in the ninth off Ryota Igarashi and a fielding error by John Rodriguez helped Houston (11-9) plate the go-ahead run in the 10th.
James McDonald allowed a run on two hits in seven innings for the Pirates (7-13). Garrett Jones hit a two-run home run and Neil Walker singled in two runs.for Pittsburgh.

STAR OF THE GAME: McDonald took a no-hitter into the sixth before pinch hitter Travis Buck broke it up with a one-out single. McDonald struck out three and walked none.

PROSPECT OF THE GAME: Another day, another bunch of hits for Josh Harrison, now batting .520 after collecting two more hits Saturday.

QUOTE OF THE GAME: "I didn't know until they started clapping. They started clapping and I was just like, 'What happened?"' - McDonald, on losing the no-hitter.

UP NEXT: The Pirates and Astros meet against 1:05 p.m. today in Kissimmee. Brad Lincoln goes for Pittsburgh against Houston's J.A. Happ.

Darn you, Travis Buck!

(photo by John Lembo)

- A soft singe by pinch hitter Travis Buck snapped James McDonald's no-hitter attempt with one out in the fifth inning. Its spring training, so there is no way McDonald would have gone the full nine. But spring training is all about hope, right?

-So much for big McKechnie Field crowds. Haven't received a total yet, but today's attendance is nowhere near McKechnie's average (5,987) this spring. Doesn't help that the Houston Astros, easily baseball's most nameless, faceless team, is here today.

- Pirates lead 2-0. Neil Walker singled home two runs in the first, while McDonald cruised through six one-hit innings. Not bad considering he had allowed eight earned runs in his first seven innings this spring.

- Remember these?

A.J. Burnett enjoys return to mound

(photo by John Lembo)

A.J. Burnett returned to a major-league mound Saturday morning, firing 40 pitches during a two-inning live batting practice session.

"It felt great. It was a good, fun day," Burnett said. "It was a big step. Felt strong."

Burnett faced right-handed hitting Michael McKenry and left-handed Garrett Jones prior to the Pirates' game with the Houston Astros in front of an audience that included pitching coach Ray Searage, manager Clint Hurdle and assistant general manager Kyle Stark.

He pitched from the stretch and the wind-up while infielders Pedro Alvarez, Neil Walker, Josh Harrison and Matt Hague played behind him.

"Guys were chirping, feedback from the hitters was great," Burnett said. "Them being out there, acting like that, makes it fun. And we're here to have fun...They clapped when I walked off and everything. They were happy to see me out there as much as I was happy to be out there."

Burnett is working his way back after undergoing surgery to repair a fractured bone under his right eye. He suffered the injury during a February bunting tournament at Pirate City and isn't expected to pitch in a Grapefruit League game this spring.

After the March surgery, the Pirates said Burnett was expected to miss eight to 12 weeks.

"They have a schedule, and we're going to follow it the best we can," he said. "It's all in pencil, though, that's the good thing."

Burnett pitched behind an L-screen Saturday and didn't get a chance to field his position. That will change later this spring when he pitches in a simulated game.

"It will be game-like," he said. "I won't have a screen, I'll be able to move around, react to groundballs, react to bunts and keep moving."

Houston? More like Who?ston.

(photo by John Lembo)

Craig Biggio's not walking through that door, folks. Neither is Jeff Bagwell, Hunter Pence, Derek Bell, Mike Scott, Glenn Davis, Kevin Bass, Nolan Ryan, Joe Morgan, Lance Berkman or any other Astros you may remember over the years.

The organizations heads into its 50th season in the midst of a massive rebuilding project, so don't expect a gaggle of familair faces today at McKechnie Field, where the Artists Formerly Known As the Colt .45s meet the Pirates.

I'm John Lembo, and here are the lineup:

(BTW, that's A.J. Burnett tossing batting practice Saturday morning. More on that later...)

J.B. Shuck, cf
Angel Sanchez, ss
Brian Bogusevic, rf
J.D. Martinez, lf
Brett Wallace, 1b
Matt Downs, 3b
Juan Castro, c
Joe Thurston, 2b
Kyle Weiland, p

Alex Presley, lf
Josh Harrison, ss
Jose Tabata, rf
Andrew McCutchen, cf
Neil Walker, 2b
Garrett Jones, 1b
Yamaico Navarro, 3b
Michael McKenry, c
James McDonald, p

Friday, March 23, 2012

Mo Town is here!

This is Jason Dill blogging from McKechnie Field where the Detroit Tigers bring the hottest hitter this Grapefruit League season, Ryan Raburn, to face the Pittsburgh Pirates.

Raburn has hit six home runs in 26 at-bats this spring.

Jim Leyland, who managed the Pirates the last time they made the playoffs, is back in Bradenton with the Tigers.

His club was tabbed as a favorite to win the World Series this year.

However, several of the marquee names aren't on this trip down from Lakeland.

Prince Fielder, Justin Verlander, Miguel Cabrera and Alex Avila didn't make the voyage down to the Friendly City.

Cabrera was injured earlier this week when he took a grounder to the face.

Doug Fister is scheduled to battle Pittsburgh's Charlie Morton today.

Here's the lineups:


1. Andy Dirks CF
2. Brennan Boesch RF
3. Jhonny Peralta SS
4. Ryan Raburn 2B
5. Delmon Young LF
6. Don Kelly 1B
7. Clete Thomas DH
8. Brandon Inge 3B
9. Gerald Laird

RHP Doug Fister


1. Jose Tabata RF
2. Nate McLouth LF
3. Andrew McCutchen CF
4. Neil Walker 2B
5. Casey McGehee 3B
6. Matt Hague 1B
7. Rod Barajas C
8. Clint Barmes SS
9. Charlie Morton RHP

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Pirates name Erik Bedard Opening Day starter

(photo by Chris O'Meara, associated press)

Manager Clint Hurdle said Erik Bedard will start Opening Day on Thursday, April 5 against the Philadelphia Phillies.

The announcement was made following the Pirates' 8-6 loss to the Tampa Bay Rays.

Jeff Karstens and James McDonald follow Bedard, and Kevin Correia, last year's Opening Day starter, takes the mound April 10 for the team's first road game against the Los Angeles Dodgers.

"We felt our strongest rotation coming out of the chute would fall this way," Hurdle said.

Bedard is 0-1 with a 6.23 ERA in three starts this spring. He has made two Opening Day starts, with the last coming in 2008 for the Seattle Mariners.

"He's done this before," Hurdle said.

Bedard takes the place of A.J. Burnett, who underwent surgery earlier this month to repair a fractured orbital bone. Burnett has thrown two bullpen sessions since the surgery and is expected back some time in May or June.

"We were planning on giving the ball to A.J. to start the season," Hurdle said.

The Pirates have not made a decision on a fifth starter, Hurdle said. The Pirates, who have three off days in April, may not need a fifth starter until May.

Rambling from the ballpark...

(photo by John Lembo)

- Joe Maddon reminds me of the really cool kid in high school who doubled as the validictorian. You can't deny the quality of his work: two Manager of the Year awards and three trips to the playoffs while competing in the rugged AL East. Nor can you deny his personality: The smiling, ain't-life-a-blast guy you see on TV is the real Joe Maddon. I've dealt with him just a few times, but he IS as cool as he seems. He earned the nickname Staples during the 2008 postseason because he spoke for so long during his press conferences that the dictation wouldn't fit all on one page. He listens to Springsteen and Pavarotti. He shops and cooks for the homeless during the holidays. He shaved his head in the name of pediatric cancer research and encouraged his players to do the same. And he benched B.J. Upton for not hustling during the '08 pennant race, proof that can be authoritative when it counts. Yeah, he's batted a catcher leadoff, and last year said the bullpen did "great" after it blew a late-inning lead against the New York Yankees. But what you see is what you get with Joe Maddon. And what you see is one of the most interesting and charismatic people in all of sports. We need more like him.

- The Pirates' Nick Evans got picked off third and Nate McLouth got picked off second. Wonder if you can actually get picked off at home...

- Today isn't a sellout at McKechnie Field, snapping a string of four straight. Hey, even Joe DiMaggio's hitting streak had to end some time, right? Speaking of which, Friday's game against the Detroit Tigers is already sold out, according to Trevor Gooby, the Pirates' director of Florida operations. I have a feeling a lot of those people are banking on Prince Fielder making the trip from Lakeland.

- It's 5-4 Pirates after 5 1/2 innings. Rod Barajas and Yamaico Navarro have homered for the Buccos against the Rays' James Shields, who was pulled with two outs and two on in the sixth.

Rays' "Fortune Favors The Bald" t-shirts on sale Friday

(photo courtesy of the Tampa Bay Rays) The Tampa Bay Rays' Fortune Favors The Bald t-shirts go on sale Friday for $15.99 at various locations.
Proceeds will go toward the Pediatric Cancer Foundation, Moffitt Cancer Center and All Children's hospital.
The shirts can be found at the following locations:
Rays team store at Tropicana Field - 1 Tropicana Drive, St. Petersburg; 888-FAN-RAYS
Moffitt Cancer Center - 12902 Magnolia Drive, Tampa; 888-MOFFITT
All Children's Hospital - 501 6th Ave. S., St. Petersburg; 727-767-592
Rays Team Store - 400 N. Tampa St., Tampa; 888-FAN-RAYS
Rays team store at Charlotte Sports Park - 2300 El Jobean Road, Port Charlotte; 941-235-5069

Feel the heat! Here come the Rays!

(photo by John Lembo)

Tuesday there were the Yankees.

Wednesday came the Red Sox.

Today, here come the Rays.

The Pirates play an American League East team for the third straight today when they host those pesky pals from St. Petersburg, your overachieving Rays.

This is John Lembo, blogging live today from sun-splashed McKechnie Field.

So let's see who's playing:


Elliot Johnson, ss

Sam Fuld, cf

Ben Zobrist, 2b

Carlos Pena, dh

Jeff Keppinger, 1b

Jose Lobaton, c

Jeff Salazar, rf

Chris Gimenez, lf

Will Rhymes, 2b

James Shields, p


Alex Presley, lf

Clint Barmes, ss

Nate McLouth, cf

Garrett Jones, 1b

Yamaico Navarro, 2b

Pedro Alvarez, 3b

Nick Evans, rf

Rod Barajas, c

Jeff Karstens, p

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Buccos beat BoSox

(photo by John Lembo) Nate McLouth hit a two-run home in the seventh inning to lift the Pirates to a 6-5 win over the Boston Red Sox on Wednesday in front of 6,559 fans at McKechnie Field.
It was the fifth sellout this year at McKechnie and the fourth straight.
Matt Hague hit his third home run of the spring and former Tampa Bay Ray Juan Cruz pitched a scoreless ninth for his first save. Cruz, who has a 1.29 ERA this spring, is looking to make the Pirates (7-10) as a non-roster invitee.
STAR OF THE GAME: Hague, a career .302 hitter in 462 minor-league games, added a single Wednesday and is hitting .429 this spring.
PROSPECT OF THE GAME: Shortstop Josh Harrison added two more hits Wednesday and his now batting .529. The 24-year-old Harrison, who the Pirates acquired in a 2009 trade with the Chicago Cubs, made his major-league debut last year.
QUOTE OF THE GAME: “He’s got to slide earlier.” – manager Clint Hurdle on Harrison, who was tagged out twice after sliding past second base.
UP NEXT: The Pirates face an American League East team for the third straight day today when they host the Tampa Bay Rays at 1:05 p.m. It’s the same pitching matchup as last Saturday’s game – Jeff Karstens for the Pirates and James Shields for the Rays.

Home runs and hot shots at McKechnie Field...

(photo by John Lembo) - The wind is blowing out at McKechnie Field, and we have homers. four of 'em. Nate McLouth's two-run blast in the seventh has given the Buccos a 6-5 lead over the Red Sox heading into the eighth. Matt Hague blasted a two-run shot for the Pirates. Jarrod Saltalamacchia added a two-run blast for the BoSox, as well, and Mauro Gomez hit a solo shot.
- Jordy Mercer almost killed me. He hit a liner foul into the press box that hit a ledge, bounced up and hit the ceiling and rolled down press row. There's a fresh marking just on the ceiling just above my head. But my Brita is still standing!
- The Pirates are getting their fill of the AL East's elite. They visited the Yankees on Tuesday, hosted the Red Sox today and welcome the Tampa Bay Rays to Bradenton on Thursday.
- This game has sped up since Red Sox starter Jon Lester left after three innings. Good thing. It's my turn to walk the dog in the morning and I was worried I wouldn't make it.

A snail's pace would be considered an improvement...

(photo by John Lembo)

- Haven't received a total yet, but it appears as if McKechnie Field is sold out for the fifth time this spring. Not sure if you're aware, but MLB added a new rule stating the team with most Grapefruit League sellouts gets an extra win added to their regular-season total.

Kidding. It's five wins.

Kidding. Made the rule up. Doesn't exist.

- Pirates starter Kevin Correia gave up a run for the first time this spring when Josh Kroeger ripped a single to left in the second inning. That snapped Correia's streak of 10 1/3 scoreless innings.

- Remember last night when I said Andrew McCutchen was good? He still is. Today he's walked, singled, stolen a base and driven in a run. As I said, still good.

- Red Sox hurler Jon Lester is working very slowwwwwly out there, which I find interesting, considering new BoSox skipper Bobby Valentine ripped another Red Sox starter, Josh Beckett, when he was taking too long during a Yankees-Red Sox game last year. Valentine has already named Beckett his Opening Day starter, and the Red Sox need the elite lefty if they are to get back to the playoffs for the first time since 2009. In other words, now that he's in the dugout and no longer in the broadcasting booth, Valentine couldn't care less how long Lester and Beckett take between pitches.

- Did I mention Lester is working slowwwly? It's the bottom of the third inning and we've been here for over an hour. And it's not working - he's given up two runs on six hits in two-plus innings.

- It's 2-1 Pirates in the 3rd.

Here come the Sawx!

(photo by John Lembo)

The sun is out and the Boston Red Sox are in town.
Wednesday afternoon be damned, I smell another sellout at McKechnie Field.
Hi folks. This is John Lembo and I am blogging live as the fellas from Beantown - and hordes of their die-hard fans - invade downtown Bradenton for the only time this spring.
Here are the lineups:

Pedro Ciriaco, 2b
Jose Iglesias, ss
Kevin Youkilis, 3b
Adrian Gonzalez, 1b
Jarrod Saltalamacchia, c
Ryan Lavarnway, dh
Josh Kroeger, rf
Jason Repko, cf
Alex Hassan, lf
Jon Lester, p

Jose Tabata, rf
Josh Harrison, ss
Andrew McCutchen, cf
Casey McGehee, 1b
Neil Walker, 2b
Matt Hague, 3b
Yamaico Navarro, lf
Michael McKenry, c
Kevin Correia, p

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

New York, New York...

(photo by John Lembo)

Neil Walker, Jose Tabata and Andrew McCutchen had two hits each but the Pirates fell to the New York Yankees 10-3 at George M. Steinbrenner Field on Tuesday night.
McCutchen and Walker knocked in the runs for the Pirates (6-10), while Tabata scored twice and stole a base.
Alex Rodriguez had three RBIs and Justin Maxwell doubled twice for New York (9-9).
STAR OF THE GAME: McCutchen hit a two-run home run off Yankees’ starter Michael Pineda in the first inning and ran his average to .407 this spring. He has two home runs and nine RBIs.
PROSPECT OF THE GAME: Matt Hague singled in his one at-bat Tuesday. Hague, 26, hit .309 and led the International League with 165 hits last year while playing with the Pirates’ Triple-A team in Indianapolis. Hague, 26, is a career .302 hitter in 462 professional games.
QUOUTE OF THE DAY: “It was a dot. I barely saw it.” – Pirates starter Erik Bedard, referring to his one at-bat against Pineda. Bedard struck out.
UP NEXT: The Pirates continue their run against American League East teams today when they host the Boston Red Sox at 1:05 p.m. Kevin Correia is expected to start against Boston’s Jon Lester. The Tampa Bay Rays visit McKechnie Field on Thursday.

A little Mo and a lot of O at Steinbrenner Field

(photo by John Lembo)

- It's not every day you see a crowd rise to its feet in the fourth inning of a Grapefruit League game. But it's not every day said crowd gets to see Mariano Rivera, the Yankees' other-wordly closer who threw a perfect inning against the Pirates. Rivera's spring training appearances are few and far between (being the best at what you do gives you the right to set your own schedule), and Rivera has declined to say whether this year is his last. So the crowd at George M. Steinbrenner Field took advantage of the the Rivera sighting and gave him quite the sendoff as he made his way back to the dugout. It was cool to see.

- Andrew McCutchen is good. He sent a 3-2 slider from the Yankees' Michael Pineda into orbit for a two-run home run in the first inning. McCutchen now has two home runs and nine RBIs in 10 games this spring, looking every bit the franchise guy the Pirates hope they have.

- JoJo Reyes continues to struggle. The non-roster invitee entered Tuesday with a 9.00 ERA in seven innings this spring and had a miserable outing tonight, when he allowed three runs on two hits and issued two walks after relieving Erik Bedard in the fourth inning. Reyes didn't record an out and ran his ERA to 12.86.

- Consider this AL East Rivalry Week for the Pirates: They host the Boston Red Sox on Wednesday following tonight's game against the Yankees and welcome the Tampa Bay Rays back to Bradenton on Thursday.

- The Pirates trail the Yankees 9-2 in the fifth inning. Alex Rodriguez has two hits and three RBIs for the Yankees.

Contract doesn't dim McCutchen's focus

(photo by John Lembo)

Andrew McCutchen never appeared to be distracted or bogged down by the status of his contract.

But weeks after signing a $51.5 million deal that will keep him in Pittsburgh for six more years, the All-Star centerfielder doesn't plan on going about his business any differently.

"It's good it's over, but I've still got to stay motivated, still got to stay ready," he said. "Keep going out and keep challenging myself."

McCutchen entered Tuesday's game against the host New York Yankees batting .375 in nine games this spring. He has one home run and his seven RBIs are tied for tops on the team with Alex Presley.

He homered to left off Yankees starter Michael Pineda in the top of the first inning.

McCutchen hit just .259 last year but established career highs in home runs (23) and RBIs (89) en route to making his first All-Star team.

Pettitte: It was Yankees or bust

(photo by John Lembo)

As much as Andy Pettitte wanted start pitching again, he only wanted to do so with one team.

The New York Yankees.

"This is where my heart was, man," Pettitte said while addressing the media at George M. Steinbrenner Field prior to tonight's game against the Pirates.

Pettitte officially unretired Friday and signed a minor-league contract with the Yankees that will make him $2.5 million if he makes the team. He threw a 15-minute, 50-pitch bullpen session Tuesday.

Pettitte said he approached Yankees general manager Brian Cashman at the start of the spring and told him he wanted to come back upon arriving to Tampa as a guest instructor.

While Pettitte won 203 games in two separate stints with the Yankees (1995-2003, 2007-2010), there was a chance Pettitte wouldn't find a place in a crowded rotation that added Michael Pineda and Hiroki Kuroda in the offseason, or that the suddenly cost-conscious Yankees did not want to add more payroll.

Had the Yankees said no, Pettitte probably would have stayed retired.

"Me and my wife talked about it, and there was no considering going anywhere else," Pettitte said. "Obviously, I could have considered other places and got a lot more money...But I had no desire to go anywhere else."

Live from the House of George

(photo by John Lembo)

That's the likeness of the late George M. Steinbrenner presiding over all who enter Tampa's George M. Steinbrenner Field, the site of tonight's Grapefruit League game between the New York Yankees and Pittsburgh Pirates.

First pitch is slated for 7:05 p.m.

This is John Lembo, and I'll be here all night.

Here's a look at the lineups, with neither team scimping on starters:


Alex Presley, lf

Jose Tabata, rf

Andrew McCutchen, cf

Neil Walker, 2b

Garrett Jones, 1b

Rod Barajas, c

Pedro Alvarez, 3b

Clint Barmes, ss

Erik Bedard, p


Curtis Granderson, cf

Nick Swisher, rf

Robinson Cano, 2b

Alex Rodriguez, ss

Mark Teixeira, 1b

Andruw Jones, dh

Russell Martin, c

Eduardo Nunez, ss

Brett Gardner, lf

Michael Pineda, p

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Marte among the Pirates' latest cuts

(photo by John Lembo) The Pirates said all spring Starling Marte was not breaking camp with the big club.
Sunday, they proved it, as the 23-year-old was among five Pirates sent to the team's Triple-A affiliate in Indianapolis.
"We want a complete package when he gets up here, and he still has some work to do," manager Clint Hurdle said Friday after Marte homered and singled against the Phillies' Cliff Lee.
Marte batted .520 (13 for 25) in 12 games this spring, with three home runs and two stolen bases. He led the Eastern League with a .332 average last year while with the Pirates' Double-A team in Altoona, and was named the league's Rookie of the Year.
Outfielder Gorkys Hernandez and pitchers Bryan Morris, Justin Wilson and Kyle McPherson were also assigned to Indianapolis on Sunday.
The Pirates face the Minnesota Twins at 1:05 p.m. today in Fort Myers and are off Monday. They play the New York Yankees on Tuesday night in Tampa before returning to Bradenton on Wednesday to host the Boston Red Sox.

Saturday, March 17, 2012

All done at McKechnie Field

(photo by John Lembo)
Jeff Karstens allowed an earned run over five innings but the Pirates fell 2-1 to the Tampa Bay Rays in front of 6,542 fans at McKechnie Field.
It was McKechnie’s fourth sellout in seven games this spring.
Andrew McCutchen homered for the Pirates (6-8), while Luke Scott hit his first home run of the spring for the Rays.
Carlos Pena cracked a triple in the sixth for his first hit of the spring and later scored on a wild pitch.
Jason Grilli pitched two scoreless innings for the Pirates and has tossed six shutout innings this spring.
STAR OF THE GAME: Rays starter James Shields went six innings, striking out seven while allowing a run on four hits. He is 2-0 with a 0.75 ERA this spring.
PROSPECT OF THE GAME: Josh Harrison, who made his major-league debut and played 65 games last year for the Pirates, doubled Saturday. The 24-year-old is 9 for 15 this spring (.600). QUOTE OF THE DAY: “I screwed that whole thing up.” – Rays manager Joe Maddon on not using minor-leaguer Shawn O’Malley on St. Patrick’s Day. O’Malley made the trip to Bradenton but didn’t play.
UP NEXT: The Pirates head to Fort Myers today to play the Minnesota Twins at 1:05 p.m. Charlie Morton will start for the Pirates against the Twins’ Francisco Liriano. The Pirates and Twins will also play a “B” game 10 a.m. today in Fort Myers.

It's all about the green...

(photo by John Lembo)

- Not a fan of these green bases. I know it's St. Patrick's Day (which has suddenly become the word's most participatory holiday) and it's a one-off thing. But bases should be white. Is this day almost over?

- Carlos Pena got a rousing ovation prior to his first at-bat here at McKechnie Field. Funny, I remember everyone wanting to run this guy out of town on a rail back in 2010, his last year in St. Petersburg. Now everyone loves him again. Let's see how long that lasts.

- The Rays are bit banged up, with guys such as Evan Longoria, B.J. Upton and Desmond Jennings working their way back from early-season injuries. So not too many starts today, though Pena, Sam Fuld, Matt Joyce, Sean Rodriguez and James Shields made the trip.

- Shields is good. He breezed through the first five innings, striking out six and allowing three hits. Pitching coach Jim Hickey is making his way toward the Rays' bullpen, so Shields' day may be done.

- Rays lead 1-0 after five on Luke Scott's first home run of the spring, a long arc job to left field.

The Tampa Bay Rays: Men without hats

(photo by John Lembo) It's hot and sunny here at McKechnie Field, but the Tampa Bay Rays are sans caps as they take batting practice.
Most of the Rays recently had their heads shaved to raise money for the Pediatric Cancer Foundation, and manager Joe Maddon wants his newly-shorn players to get acclimated to the sunshine.
"We want to sun the domes," Maddon said this morning at McKechnie Field, "before we get into our dome."
The Rays are also wearing their yellow Fortune Favors The Bald t-shirts, so autograph seekers will have to recognize their favorite players by face instead of number prior to today's game.
The haircuts are a hit thus far, said Maddon, who also had his locks shaved last week.
"Nobody's getting a sunburn, not that I've heard of," he said. "Everybody seems to coming along well with it. It's still very popular. It's got really great reviews from each guy who got their hair cut. They kind of like themselves, they're digging themselves, and it's something they may do again in the future on their own volition."

Pirates, Rays and a gaggle full of green

(photo by John Lembo)

It's St. Patrick's Day, and what better place to be than McKechnie Field?

The Pirates are hosting those lovable lads from St. Pete, the Tampa Bay Rays, at 1:05 p.m. today. And the Pirates will be donning green caps in accordance with today's festivities, running around green bases and not partaking the green beer.

(At least not yet...)

So let's see who's playing, yah?


Luke Scott, dh

Sean Rodriguez, ss

Matt Joyce, rf

Carlos Pena, 1b

Jeff Keppinger, 2b

Sam Fuld, cf

Jose Lobaton, c

Jesus Feliciano, lf

Matt Mangini, 3b

James Shields, p


Alex Presley, lf

Nate McLouth, rf

Andrew McCutchen, cf

Neil Walker, 2b

Garrett Jones, 1b

Pedro Alvarez, 3b

Rod Barajas, c

Clint Barmes, ss

Jeff Karstens, p

Friday, March 16, 2012

Another one done at McKechnie

(photo by John Lembo) Starling Marte and Jake Fox cracked home runs off of Philles ace Cliff Lee, above, and six pitchers limited the Phillies to six hits as the Pirates beat Philadelphia 3-2 in front of a sold-out crowd of 6,547 at McKechnie Field.
Marte had two hits and scored two runs and Fox, battling for a reserve role, raised his average to .313 for the Pirates (6-7), who have won three straight.
PLAYER OF THE GAME: Pirates starter Kevin Correia coasted through four innings, walking one, striking out two and allowing one hit. Correia has not allowed an earned run in nine innings this spring.
PROSPECT OF THE GAME: Let’s just call it the Starling Marte Award. He went 2-for-4 with two runs scored and raised his spring average to .500 in 11 games.
QUOTE OF THE DAY: “He’s pretty much been following the glove all spring.” – Pirates manager Clint Hurdle on Correia.
UP NEXT: The Tampa Bay Rays make the first of their three trips to Bradenton this afternoon for a 1:05 start. Jeff Karstens is expected to pitch for the Pirates against the Rays’ James Shields.

Five innings into a Keystone State throwdown...

- Pirates beat writers have Tweeted it and Pirates honchos have said it: Outfielder Starling Marte is not breaking spring training with the big club. Makes sense. Pittsburgh's outfield is a crowded lot, with Andrew McCutchen, Jose Tabata and Alex Presley in the starting lineup and veteran Nate McLouth serving as their chief backup. And Marte, 23, has never played a game above Double-A. But he sure is exciting to watch: He leadoff today's game with a home run off Cliff Lee. It was Marte's third home run of the year.
- Remember when he Phillies stunk? No one has lost more games (1,092), and for a franchise that began playing in 1883, the Phightins have only two World Championships to their credit. That's as many as the Florida Marlins, who were hatched exactly 100 years after the Phillies.
Well, those days are gone. The Phillies have won six straight NL East crowns, won a championship in 2008, went back to the World Series in 2009 and boast one of baseball's best starting rotations. Perhaps that's why red is the color of the day today at jam packed McKechnie Field.
- Pirates starter Kevin Correia tossed four shutout innings today and has not allowed a run in nine innings this spring. Does that count as a shutout?
- Oh, the Pirates lead the Phillies 3-0 after six innings.

Pirates and Phillies from postcard-worthy McKechnie Field

(photo by John Lembo) What a gorgeous day here at McKechnie Field, where the Pirates and Phillies are less than four hours away from first pitch.
This is John Lembo, and I will be blogging live from this jewel of a ballpark here in downtown Bradenton, where the weather is hooky-worthy.
So who's playing?

Juan Pierre, rf
Scott Podsednik, cf
Hunter Pence, dh
John Mayberry, Jr. 1b
Michael Martinez, lf
Pete Orr, 3b
Brian Schneider, c
Kevin Frandsen, 2b
Freddy Galvis, ss
Cliff Lee, p

Starling Marte, cf
Clint Barmes, ss
Casey McGehee, 1b
Rod Barajas, c
Neil Walker, 2b
Pedro Alvarez, 3b
Brandon Boggs, rf
Gorkys Hernandez, lf
Kevin Correia, p

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

We'll be back...

(photo by John Lembo)Don't fret, folks. Our super-popular, groudbreaking Bradenton Spring Training blog returns to cyberspace Friday morning, when I, John Lembo, head back to McKechnie Field to watch the Pirates meet the Philadelphia Phillies. I'll be there Saturday, too, when those pesky Tampa Bay Rays make their way to Bradenton.
Where have we been?
First, the Pirates were off Tuesday and are on the road today (Sarasota) and Thursday (Fort Myers).
Second, we've been keeping our eye on the tradition-rich Sarasota Baseball Classic, one of the country's best high school tournaments. This year's field included six of our local teams, and two (Manatee and IMG Academy) are in the running to win a tournament championship.
Action concludes Thursday.
And that's why I included that pic detailing the life of the legendary Buck O'Neil. Most of the SBC games are being played at the Buck O'Neil Baseball Complex in Sarasota, a sprawling site that also serves as the southern headquarters of the Baltimore Orioles.
It's a pretty cool set-up, although I am a little disappointed the recycling cans are still adorned with Orioles' dated bird logo.
Didn't they get the memo?

Monday, March 12, 2012

Phillies 4, Pirates 1

Five Phillies pitchers limited the Pirates to two hits for a 4-1 victory in front of 6,556 fans at McKechnie Field.
Gorkys Hernandez and Jordy Mercer singled for the Pirates (3-7), with Hernandez's hit breaking up a no-hitter in the seventh.
Charlie Morton pitched two scoreless innings and allowed four hits in his Grapefruit League debut. The righty, who won 10 games for the Pirates last season, underwent hip surgery in October.

STAR OF THE GAME: Phillies starter Vance Worley pitched four perfect innings and struck out eight.
PROSPECT OF THE GAME: Hernandez, 23, not only got the Pirates' first hit, but he stole a base and scored a run on a throwing error. The Pirates acquired Hernandez in 2009 from the Atlanta Braves along with Morton and pitcher Jeff Locke in exchange for Nate McLouth. Hernandez hit .283 with 21 steals last year for the Pirates' Triple-A team in Indianapolis.
UP NEXT: The Pirates are off Tuesday but return to action 1:05 p.m. Wednesday when they head to Sarasota to play the Baltimore Orioles. James McDonald is slated to pitch for the Pirates against the Orioles' Jake Arrieta.

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Game over at McKechnie Field

(photo by John Lembo) Erik Bedard threw three scoreless innings and Casey McGehee and Chase d'Arnaud each drove in a run, but the Pirates lost 4-2 to the Minnesota Twins in front of 5,426 fans Saturday at McKechnie Field.
The Pirates (3-5) outhit the Twins 11-6.
Danny Valencia had a three-run home run for Minnesota in the top of the sixth.

STAR OF THE GAME: McGehee went 3-for-3 with a pair of doubles and a run scored to run his average up to .364 this spring. The Pirates aquired the corner infielder from the Milwaukee Brewers during an offseason trade.
PROSPECT OF THE GAME: Elevys Gonzalez, who hit .322 in 126 games last year with the Bradenton Marauders, doubled in his one at-bat Saturday. Gonzalez, 22, is a .298 hitter in 285 professional games.
QUOTE OF THE DAY: "If you can't laugh at yourself, then you've got problems." - Pirates pitcher A.J. Burnett on the doctored online photos of him serving as the team's new logo. Burnett returned to Bradenton on Saturday a little more than a week after undergoing surgery to fix a fractured bone around his right eye.
UP NEXT: The Pirates head to Port Charlotte to face the Tampa Bay Rays at 1:05 p.m. today. Kevin Correia is expected to pitch for the Pirates, while the Rays will counter with Jeff Niemann.

Six done at McKechnie Field

- It's 4-2 Twins heading into the top of the seventh here at McKechnie Field. Danny Valencia cracked a three-home run for Minnesota during the top of the sixth, while Casey McGehee and Chase d'Arnaud have knocked in runs for the Pirates.

- A.J. Burnett is back in camp a week after undergoing surgery to repair a bone fracture around his right eye. Check out Sunday's edition of The Bradenton Herald for more on Burnett's recovery. Burnett said he doesn't do Facebook or Twitter - "I'm a grown up" - but likes the doctored online pictures of him donning a Pirates eye patch, suggesting he should be the team's new logo.

"If you can't laugh at yourself," Burnett said, "you've got problems."

- Quincy Latimore, who knocked in 100 runs with the Bradenton Marauders in 2010, is now in right field for the Pirates.

- Former Pirates catcher Ryan Doumit, who is now with the Twins, did not make the trip to Bradenton. But Steve Pearce did. Pearce was named the Pirates' Minor League Player of the Year in 2007 and signed a minor-league contract with the Twins in December.

March Minnesota Madness at McKechnie

(photo by John Lembo)It's overcast here at McKechnie Field, where the Pirates are taking batting practice in preparation for their 1:05 p.m. game with Minnesota Twins.
This is John Lembo and I will be bloogging and Tweeting (@JohnLembo1878) from today's game, offering mind-bending insight and awesome analysis that will wow your friends at parties.
Let's look at the lineups, shall we:

Denard Span, cf
Jamey Carroll, ss
Josh Willingham, rf
Justin Morneau, dh
Danny Valencia, 3b
Trevor Plouffe, lf
Steve Pearce, 1b
Rene Rivera, c
Alexi Casilla, 2b
Terry Doyle, p

Alex Presley, lf
Nate McLouth, rf
Yamaico Navarro, ss
Rod Barajas, c
Casey McGehee, 3b
Jake Fox, 1b
Gorkys Hernandez, cf
Chase d'Arnaud, 2b
Erik Bedard, p

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Stretch time at Ed Smith Stadium

Eric Hinske/from Yahoo Sports.

It's seventh inning stretch time at Ed Smith Stadium as an announced crowd of 5,938 are here to watch today's pitching duel.

The scoreless game has ended, though, with Eric Hinske's home run to right field off Zach Phillips in the top of the seventh arming the Atlanta Braves with a 1-0 lead over the Baltimore Orioles.

The two teams have combined for six hits thus far.

Scoreless through three at Ed Smith

Tyler Pastornicky/from IMG Academies

We're scoreless through three innings at Ed Smith Stadium.

Both teams have put runners in scoring position, but have yet to plate anybody.

And so far Bradenton native Tyler Pastornicky has made a couple plays at shortstop for the Atlanta Braves.

Pastornicky has been a part of two double plays, most recently coming to end things in the bottom of the third to keep Baltimore off the scoreboard.

He's 0-for-1 at the plate in his lone at-bat.

Check back for more updates.

Atlanta Braves at Baltimore Orioles

Hello there baseball fans. This is Jason Dill, and I'll be blogging today from Ed Smith Stadium in North Sarasota as the Atlanta Braves visit the Baltimore Orioles.

A couple players for the Braves with local connections make the today's starting lineup, including Bradenton native Tyler Pastornicky, who is expected to contend for the starting shortstop role when the regular season begins.

Here's today's lineup:

Atlanta Braves

1. Luis Durango, CF
2. Martin Prado, 2B
3. Freddie Freeman, 1B
4. Eric Hinske, LF
5. David Ross, C
6. Jason Heyward, RF
7. Joey Terdoslavich, 3B (Sarasota High alum)
8. Evan Gattis, DH
9. Tyler Pastornicky, SS (IMG Academies alum)

SP: Mike Minor

Baltimore Orioles

1. Nolan Reimold, LF
2. J.J. Hardy, SS
3. Adam Jones, CF
4. Matt Wieters, C
5. Mark Reynolds, 3B
6. Wilson Betemit, 1B
7. Jai Miller, RF
8. Ryan Adams, DH
9. Robert Andino, 2B

SP: Jason Hammel

First pitch is about 20 minutes away. Check back here for updates throughout the day.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Another one done

(photo by John Lembo)

The Pittsburgh Pirates hit three home runs Wednesday but still lost 8-6 to the Toronto Blue Jays in front of 4,446 fans at McKechnie Field.
The Blue Jays hit three home runs as well.
Pedro Alvarez, Garett Jones and Starling Marte all hit their first home runs of the spring for the Pirates (2-3), who got pair of doubles from Josh Harrison and two hits from Alvarez, who also added a single.
Travis Snider, Yan Gomes and Luis Valbuena all homered for the Blue Jays.
STAR OF THE GAME: Pirates starter Jeff Karstens needed just 35 pitches to get through three innings. The 29-year-old righty allowed two hits, no walks and struck out one. Karstens led the Pirates with a 3.38 ERA last year.
PROSPECT OF THE GAME: Marte gets it again. His two-run home run and ninth-inning single give him 7 hits in his last 7 at-bats. A Bradenton Marauder in 2010, Marte was named the Eastern League’s Rookie of the Year in ’11 while playing with the Pirates’ Double-A team in Altoona, Pa.
QUOTE OF THE DAY: “Seven straight hits is a lot. I never got seven straight hits.” – Pirates manager Clint Hurdle, referring to Marte’s streak.
UP NEXT: The Pirates head to Clearwater today for a 1:05 start against the Philadelphia Phillies. James McDonald is expected to start for Pittsburgh against Phillies lefty Cole Hamels. The Pirates next home game is Saturday against the Minnesota Twins.

Fit to be tied in downtown Bradenton...

(photo by John Lembo) - Yeah, it's a McKechnie Field day all right, as Pedro Alvarez and Garrett Jones have homered for the Pirates and Travis Snider has added one for the Blue Jays. It's 4-4 here heading into the seventh inning.
- The picture on the top of the blog was taken yesterday when the Yankees were in town. The bleachers today aren't nearly as crowded. But my wife needed the camera today so I had to pull a pic from my personal archive.
- Former Marauder Robbie Grossman has been busy during his first big-league camp. The Pirates' reigning Minor League Player of the Year appeared in all four games heading into today, and just pinch ran for Pedro Alvarez in the sixth.
- Jeff Karstens became the first Pirate to hit in a game this year and dropped down a sacrifice bunt in the second inning. The Pirates are no longer using the DH after having one during the first four games.
- The Pittsburgh Tribune-Review reported that second baseman Neil Walker was a late scratch today because of sore lower back. He could be out a few days. Josh Harrison started in his place.

Pedro plays pepper with the Boys & Girls Club

(photo by Paul Videla) Pirates third baseman Pedro Alvarez, not wearing a hat in the above picture taken during his rehab stint this summer with the Bradenton Marauders, blasted his first home run of the spring this afternoon at McKechnie Field.
It was his first hit of the spring, too.
Alvarez smacked a 3-2 offering from Toronto's Kyle Drabek over the wall in left and off the Bradenton Boys & Girls Club in the second inning.
Josh Harrison and Alex Presley had run-scoring hits in the inning to give the Pirates a 3-0 lead.
The Pirates are banking on a bounce-back year for Alvarez, who hit .191 with four home runs and was limited to 74 games because of injuries last season.

Blue Jays are here...again.

For the third time this spring - actually, for the third time this week - the Pirates and Blue Jays are getting together to play a Grapefruit League baseball game.

I guess whomever did the spring schedules are really bummed the teams just missed each other in the 1992 World Series, when the Pirates were an out away before beating Atlanta in the NLCS before...yeah, you know the rest.

Back to the present. This is John Lembo and I will be blogging live from McKechnie Field on a windy but wonderful spring day in downtown Bradenton.

Let's look at the lineups:


Yunel Escobar, ss

Travis Snider, lf

Travis d'Arnaud, c

Adam Lind, dh

David Cooper, 1b

Rajai Davis, cf

Moises Sierra, rf

Mike McCoy, 2b

Brian Bocock, 3b

Kyle Drabek, p


Alex Presley, lf

Jose Tabata, rf

Andrew McCutchen, cf

Garrett Jones, 1b

Pedro Alvarez, 3b

Clint Barmes, ss

Josh Harrison, 2b

Michael McKenry. c

Jeff Karstens, p

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Over and out

(photo by John Lembo)

On the same day the Pirates announced his six-year, $51.5 million contract, Andrew McCutchen had two hits and two RBIs in a 7-4 win over the New York Yankees in front of 6,595 fans at McKechnie Field.
It was McKechine’s first sellout of the spring.
Clint Barmes went 2-for-3 with a run scored for the Pirates (2-2), whose pitchers have allowed two earned runs over the last 21 innings.
The Pirates had 16 hits and have tallied 34 over their last two games.
PLAYER OF THE GAME: Yamaico Navarro, Pittsburgh’s designated hitter Tuesday, went 3-for-4 with two RBIs and has five hits in his last six at bats.
PROSPECT OF THE GAME: Former Bradenton Marauder Starling Marte had two hits Tuesday and is 5 for his last 5. Marte, 23, was named the Eastern League’s Rookie of the Year last year with the Pirates’ Double-A team in Altoona, Pa. He led the league in batting (.332) hits (178) and doubles (38).
QUOTE OF THE DAY: “He’s very coachable.” - Yankees manager Joe Girardi referring to Bradenton’s J.R. Murphy, currently in his first big-league camp. Murphy went 0-for-1 Tuesday.
UP NEXT: The Pirates are back in Bradenton Wednesday for their third meeting of the spring with the Toronto Blue Jays. Game time is 1:05 p.m. Jeff Karstens will start for the Pirates against Toronto’s Kyle Drabek. Kyle’s father, Doug, won the National League Cy Young Award in 1990 pitching for the Pirates.

Seven innings settled at McKechnie Field...

(photo by John Lembo)

- The Pirates lead CC Sabathia and the New York Yankees 4-2 after seven innings here at McKechnie Field, where 6,595 fans helped engineer the ballpark's first sellout of the spring. Sabathia allowed a run in two innings during his first start of the spring.

- Andrew McCutchen, the Pirates' newly-minted $51 million man, went 2-for-3 with 2 RBIs before leaving the game. Worth every penny, I say.

- It's Marauders Fest on the field now, with Robbie Grossman in left field, Starling Marte in center and Eric Fryer behind the plate.

- Bradenton's J.R. Murphy is wearing shinguards in the Yankees dugout but hasn't seen any action. Francisco Cervelli started at catcher for New York and was relieved by 19-year-old prospect Gary Sanchez, who is the youngest Yankee in camp this spring. Sanchez is more than 20 years younger than 42-year-old Mariano Rivera, the Yankees' oldest player in camp. Sanchez is good. He just threw out the fleet-footed Marte, who was trying to steal second in the seventh.

- Cool seeing guys like Alex Rodriguez and Mark Teixeira sign autographs prior to the game. Then again, it's early March and everyone is in a good mood. And in first place.

- My wife did indeed buy me a new Brita water bottle, and it's sitting here next to me, filled to the brim with soon-to-be filtered water. I arrived this morning just in time to see a couple of Pirates employees get my old one down from the net above home plate by chucking a baseball at it. No idea what they did with it. But if the Pirates host a Brita Water Bottle giveaway day sometime this spring, you know who to thank.