BRADENTON, Fla. -- Daniel Moskos was 21 years old the last time he was in spring training with the Pirates three years ago.
He had 13 minor league appearances on his resume after being the team's first-round draft pick -- No. 4 overall -- in 2007.
After primarily being a starter in '08 and '09, Moskos became a full-time closer last year.
He was the best finisher in Class AA and helped Altoona win the Eastern League championship, but struggled mightily at Class AAA Indianapolis.
Moskos, a 6-foot-1, 210-pound left-hander, will turn 25 late next month, but he has yet to sniff the majors.
He is a long shot to make the opening day roster and likely is ticketed for a return trip to Indianapolis, where he went 0-5 last year with a 10.38 earned run average before being sent back to Class AA.
Although Moskos would like to earn a regular gig in the majors, he said Friday he is not upset with the way his career has unfolded.
"I'm not frustrated at all," he said. "I'm here participating and part of a big league camp, and competing for a roster spot. I don't think you can be frustrated with that."
Moskos is one of four left-handers competing for a spot in the Pirates bullpen, joining Justin Thomas, Joe Beimel and Scott Olsen, who could end up a starter.
Moskos retired the side in order in the ninth inning Friday in a 7-4 loss to the Philadelphia Phillies at McKechnie Field.
He has not surrendered a run or hit in three innings this spring and has recorded one save.
"He's definitely in the mix," pitching coach Ray Searage said. "We're going to get him out there as much as possible.
"His pitching and what he does out there on the field is going to dictate where he's going to be this year."
Moskos, primarily a closer in college at Clemson, is 21-23 with a 4.53 ERA in 125 minor league games. He has made 45 starts and has 23 saves.
"I'm just trying to keep getting better," Moskos said. "I'm just trying to learn as much as I can, and try to be as good as I can. I don't really focus on getting to the majors, but that certainly is the goal."
Searage believes Moskos has to do a better job of pitching within himself when he's on the mound.
"He's a hyper, young kid," Searage said. "You need to use that energy to your advantage as opposed to it hampering you.
"He'll get excited at times, especially when he gets ahead in the count, and he'll try to do more with the pitch instead of just executing properly."
Moskos, who made a career-high 56 appearances last year between Class AA and Class AAA, converted 21 of his 22 save chances while working out of the Curve bullpen.
But he recorded just one save at Indianapolis and allowed 26 hits and 20 runs in 171/3 innings before being shipped back to Altoona in mid-August.
"There's a bunch of things that happened [at Indianapolis]," Moskos said. "Obviously, when you jump up a level, you're facing better competition. My mechanics got a little bit out of whack, and I did let my emotions get the best of me.
"Then I tried to do too much and tried to be someone that I wasn't. But I learned from it. I'm not going to let that happen again. It was a one-time thing, and I'm better for it."
Reliever Fernando Nieve allowed five hits and four earned runs in 11/3 innings Friday, as the Philadelphia Phillies rallied for a 7-4 victory.
The Pirates had taken a 4-3 lead in the sixth as Neil Walker scored on Garrett Jones' groundout and Andy Marte's second RBI, a double.
But the Phillies rallied for three runs in the seventh and added an insurance run in the eighth.
Nieve, who took the loss, has a 27.00 ERA in two spring training appearances.
Relief pitcher Evan Meek (mild tightness in calf) completed his live batting practice and pitcher's fielding practice session at Pirate City. The next step in his return is to throw an inning in a game, tentatively set for Monday at home against Tampa Bay. ... Shortstop Ronny Cedeno was scratched from the lineup Friday after suffering a bruise to the middle finger on his right hand Thursday. He is day to day. ... Beimel (tightness in left arm) went through his throwing program Friday with no complaints. He is scheduled to go through his throwing program again today, but no timetable has been set for his return.
Ron Musselman: firstname.lastname@example.org . First Published March 5, 2011 5:00 AM