Spring Synopsis: McLouth's blast beats Detroit
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The game: Nate McLouth's three-run home run, part of a 2-for-3 output, carried the Pirates past the Detroit Tigers, 6-4, yesterday at McKechnie Field in Bradenton, Fla.
His liner over the right-field fence came off Zach Miner's full-count, two-out fastball and capped a five-run fifth inning.
"He threw me a few offspeed pitches in a row, and the fastball kind of ran in," McLouth said. "I'm getting there. I think I was a little jumpy in my first few at-bats. But it's better. I know this spring isn't the same for me in terms of competition as the one last year, but I really want to peak here."
Earlier that inning, Freddy Sanchez sent a two-run single through the left side.
Jimmy Barthmaier, a fringe candidate for the rotation, was erratic -- two walks, two hits -- in allowing Detroit three runs in the first inning. Of his 37 pitches over two innings, just 14 were strikes.
The Pirates are 4-1 in Grapefruit League play.
Other news: Pitchers Ian Snell and Dave Davidson and infielder Ramon Vazquez left the team after the game to join their respective World Baseball Classic camps. The tournament begins Thursday.
On deck: The Pirates' Zach Duke will start against the Cincinnati Reds' Homer Bailey, 1:05 p.m. at McKechnie. Daniel McCutchen, Jason Davis, John Grabow and Craig Hansen will follow Duke.
Camp roster: 57, with 28 pitchers, six catchers, 14 infielders and nine outfielders.
Injury update: Starter Phil Dumatrait might be on a course to open the season on the disabled list. He has thrown five bullpen sessions and has five more scheduled, meaning he would not pitch for another two weeks at the earliest. If he starts out on the DL, the Pirates do not have to deal with his being out of options.
"I'm not looking at it that way," Dumatrait said. "My goal is to be ready for the season."
Utilityman Luis Cruz, out a week because of a hip flexor, has been cleared to resume playing today.
Competition: Chris Bootcheck, vying for a bullpen job, had runners at the corners with no outs in the third but escaped neatly. After two popups, he needed just three pitches to fan Ryan Raburn, who finished by hacking over an ooh-and-ah curve. It was Bootcheck's third consecutive scoreless appearance.
"Impressive," manager John Russell called the climactic pitch. "He's done the job so far."
Rule 5 draft pick Donnie Veal, another candidate, matched that run of scoreless appearances, albeit with his first walk of the spring. The Pirates have been highly encouraged by his early work.
Fun in the sun: Sun? Who said anything about a sun?
Temperature was a hardly-felt-like-it 55 degrees, with a biting wind blowing in off the coast. Players wore long sleeves, and most in attendance wore quite a bit more.
"This is crazy, man," Morgan said.
Might get crazier today, with temperatures forecast even lower.
Inside pitch: The Pirates continue to talk with free-agent reliever Will Ohman, and their interest is not contingent on trading either of their current left-handers in the bullpen, John Grabow or Sean Burnett.
Overheard: Duke, on being a lock for the rotation after signing a one-year, $2.2 million contract: "Arbitration is not a guarantee. You can be released in spring training and not see any of that money. I was told I needed to compete for a spot in the rotation from day one of spring training, and that's what I've prepared myself to do."
Meet me in St. Louis: 36 days until the opener.
First Published March 2, 2009 12:00 am