Spring Synopsis: Monroe's 8th HR ties record

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The game: Craig Monroe matched the Pirates' spring record with his eighth home run in a 7-6 loss to the Minnesota Twins in the Grapefruit League finale yesterday at Hammond Stadium in Fort Myers, Fla.

Craig Wilson's original mark of eight was set in 2005. The team's keeping of spring records begin in 1986.

Monroe lined a Glen Perkins pitch inside the left foul pole with one out in the fourth inning and cut Minnesota's lead to 6-2. It was his second home run in three games, and it ended up giving him the spring lead with 16 RBIs, too.

Ross Ohlendorf was hit hard in his final tuneup -- six runs, five earned, and eight hits over four innings -- to finish with a 2.55 ERA.

Most of the regulars were removed after two at-bats.

The Pirates finished 17-15-3 in Grapefruit play.

"We're very happy with how spring training went," manager John Russell said. "We had some good competition and some tough decisions, and that's when you know you're headed in the right direction. We're ready. I feel like we're ready."

Final spring leaders, aside from Monroe, were Brian Bixler with a .345 average among players with 50 or more at-bats, Andrew McCutchen with 12 walks, Nyjer Morgan with six steals, Paul Maholm with a 1.52 ERA, Zach Duke with 28 innings, Craig Hansen with 19 strikeouts, and Donnie Veal with 15 walks.

Injury update: Ian Snell, recovering from his stomach flu, pitched two innings in a minor league game at Pirate City and should be clear to make his scheduled start Tuesday in St. Louis.

Today: The Pirates will have a workout at Busch Stadium at 3:45 p.m., in advance of the 4:15 first pitch tomorrow.

Fun in the sun: Enough of that already. The World Baseball Classic extended spring training by a week and, to hear everyone tell it, that was excessive.

"You ask any of them, they were ready to go a few days ago," Russell said. It's been a long spring."

How long did it feel?

"A year."

Inside pitch: General manager Neal Huntington cautioned that several players who made the 25-man roster need to "keep their jobs," mentioning Andy LaRoche, Brandon Moss, Morgan and most of the pitching staff.

"Our expectations are high for the roster we have, but we're fortunate now to have the depth where other people can step in and do the job," Huntington said.

Meet me in St. Louis: One day until the opener.


Dejan Kovacevic can be reached at dkovacevic@post-gazette.com . Catch more on the Pirates at the PG's PBC Blog .


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