Pirates spring training report

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Spring training report

Game: Pirates 4, Red Sox 3.

Starter: James McDonald --5 innings, 4 hits, 2 runs, 3 walks, 6 strikeouts.

Top batter: Gaby Sanchez -- 1 for 3, 1 HR, 2 RBIs.

Of note: Jason Grilli appeared in his first game since leaving for the World Baseball Classic. He struck out one in one hitless, scoreless inning.

News of the day: After a rough first inning of work in which he allowed two runs, three hits and a walk, James McDonald found a rhythm that let him keep the Pirates close. McDonald has surrendered earned runs in the first inning of three of his past four spring-training starts. Manager Clint Hurdle believes it is a correctable problem. "With James, it's reinforced by rhythm, pace and timing and I think we saw his rhythm and his pace improve as the game went on." McDonald's first-inning ERA in 2012 was 6.85, the highest of any inning.

Buried treasure: Wandy Rodriguez, who pitched brilliantly to help the Dominican Republic advance to the World Baseball Classic semifinals, did not join the national team in San Francisco, where it has a chance to win the title. Having pitched Friday, Rodriguez was ineligible to pitch in either the semifinal or championship, so he decided to return to the Pirates -- even though Dominican teammate Robinson Cano urged him to be a part of a potential championship celebration. "I said, 'I don't have to a pitch, so I'd like to go back to the Pirates,' "

Injury update: Jeff Karstens (sore shoulder) allowed one hit and struck out three in three innings of a minor league game Monday at Pirate City. He threw 50 pitches and is expected to start the season on the active roster.

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