Pirates notebook: Freese makes Grapefruit League debut
March 17, 2016 12:45 PM
Pirates' David Freese is expected to open the season as the starting third baseman.
By Stephen J. Nesbitt / Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
BRADENTON, Fla. — The Pirates didn’t exactly ease David Freese into action. In his Grapefruit League debut, Freese batted third and faced New York Yankees right-handers Masahiro Tanaka and Luis Severino, perhaps the top two starting pitchers in the rotation.
The bad news is Freese struck out swinging against both, but he sandwiched those at-bats around a base hit to right off right-hander Johnny Barbato.
“Every time one falls in, it helps,” Freese said with a smile.
All in all, not a bad start for a guy who hadn’t seen live pitching since the Los Angeles Angels season ended last fall. The free-agent infielder signed a one-year deal with the Pirates last Friday.
“Probably the longest offseason I’ve had since I started playing baseball,” Freese said. “It’s fun. The first week or so, it kind of felt like you’re on the DL, trying to play catch up and get back out there.”
The plan, according to manager Clint Hurdle, is to have Freese DH again Friday against the Philadelphia Phillies, take Saturday off and start at third base Sunday in a road game against the Toronto Blue Jays.
“We just wanted to get him on the field [Thursday] and get a bat in his hands,” Hurdle said.
Freese is expected to start at third base for the first month of the season, then join John Jaso at first base once Jung Ho Kang returns from rehabbing from major knee surgery.
Outfield prospect Harold Ramirez, who was 11 for 19 (.579) at the plate this spring, was 1 for 5 and scored twice Thursday in Colombia’s 9-2 win against Spain in the first round of World Baseball Classic qualifiers in Panama City.
The Pirates will see a familiar face this afternoon when Phillies right-hander Charlie Morton takes the mound against his former team. He allowed a run in 2⅓ innings March 6 in his Grapefruit League debut.
Right-hander Gerrit Cole will make his second start of spring for the Pirates. He gave up two solo home runs in two innings Sunday against the Detroit Tigers.
Stephen J. Nesbitt: email@example.com and on Twitter @stephenjnesbitt.
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