Pirates Notebook: Eldred crushes third home run

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DUNEDIN, Fla. -- Brad Eldred might not draw 100 walks, or half that, this season. But he is determined to show more patience.

With the pitches he sees, as well as the timing of his swing.

After hitting his third home run in as many Grapefruit League games in the Pirates' 8-8, 10-inning tie with the Toronto Blue Jays yesterday at Knology Park, Eldred explained that he committed his winter to addressing his approach at the plate.

The result: He is staying back longer on pitches rather than leaning his left shoulder toward the mound as he noticed he had been doing when he studied his own swing on video.

"I'm seeing the ball better, and, if you see the ball better, you've got a better chance to put the bat on it," he said. "And, if I put the bat on the ball, it's got a better chance to be a home run."

No kidding. Eldred's three home runs have come in nine plate appearances -- he was 1 for 2 with a walk yesterday -- and that does not include the home run in the intrasquad scrimmage last Tuesday.

He led off the second inning yesterday by launching a 2-2 fastball from Toronto starter Josh Towers above some tall trees and toward a schoolyard beyond left field. Blue Jays left fielder Adam Lind never flinched.

Where did it land?

"The next county," said closer Salomon Torres, watching from the bullpen.

"It feels good," Eldred said. "It's good to show that the thumb, obviously, is no issue and that the power is still there."

Eldred missed most of last season with Class AAA Indianapolis because of a broken left thumb.

Bay to be DH

Outfielder Jason Bay tentatively is set to make his spring debut tomorrow against the Minnesota Twins in Fort Myers, Fla. If he plays, he will be the designated hitter.

He has made a seamless recovery from offseason knee surgery, including a week of running and fielding drills.

Other game highlights

The Pirates, 0-4-1 despite having a lead in each game, were ahead, 8-6, entering the ninth. But relief prospect Dave Davidson gave up two runs on two singles and a hit batsman. The game was called after 10 innings when each team ran out of pitchers.

Zach Duke opened with two perfect innings, including three strikeouts on terrific off-speed offerings, before giving up a single, a hit batsman and Royce Clayton's two-run double in the third.

Torres shook off a poor spring debut with a dominant fifth inning: He threw eight pitches, six of them strikes, and fanned Jason Phillips with a fastball, slider and a finishing splitter that drew a lunging swing. "It's good to be back," Torres said.

Buried treasure

Starter Brad Lincoln, the first-round draft pick last summer, has begun his throwing program, but the elbow problem that shut him down early in camp remains unresolved. The Pirates want to see how his arm responds to throwing before deciding if he needs further examination.

Most-sought autograph before the game was that of Davidson, a native of St. Catharines, Ontario. The crowd at Knology Park always is thick with transplanted or traveling Canadians.

Ian Snell will face the Philadelphia Phillies' Jamie Moyer today at McKechnie Field. Tom Gorzelanny will follow Snell.


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