Spring Synopsis: Mets inquire about Nady, but little to it
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Freddy Sanchez's three hits led the Pirates to a 13-8 romp against Cincinnati yesterday afternoon in Sarasota, Fla., but the nightcap in neighboring Bradenton -- the first night game in McKechnie Field's 85-year history -- was canceled by rain.
Sanchez, limited to de-signated hitter duty while his shoulder recovers from surgery, raised his spring average to .391 -- 9 for 23 -- with five RBIs, including two yesterday.
Jack Wilson, Adam LaRoche, Ronny Paulino and Neil Walker each had two hits, with Walker's being doubles.
John Van Benschoten started and again showed erratic command, allowing four runs -- three on Brandon Phillips' first-inning home run -- five hits and three walks in three innings.
"I thought I threw some good pitches," Van Benschoten said. "But I never really felt comfortable in the windup, and I'm going to work on that."
Pirates roared back from a 3-0 deficit with seven runs in the fourth, highlighted by Jason Bay's RBI double, Walker's two-run double and two-run singles by Steve Pearce and Wilson. The latter came after a 12-pitch at-bat that, upon completion, brought a warm ovation from the fans.
Today: The Pirates' Matt Morris makes his second spring start against the Minnesota Twins' Scott Baker, 1:05 p.m. at McKechnie Field. Paul Maholm, the scheduled starter for the rainout last night, will follow, with Jaret Wright, Sean Burnett and Matt Capps next.
Camp roster: 63, with 37 pitchers, 5 catchers, 13 infielders and 8 outfielders.
Injury update: Outfielder Nate McLouth was struck near the right elbow by a Scott Sauerbeck pitch while trying to bunt. He was pulled for a pinch-runner but was fine. Manager John Russell had intended the switch, anyway.
Battle lines: The Pirates' catchers struggled mightily to control opponents' running games in 2007, and that has continued this spring: Ronny Paulino has failed to throw out four runners trying to steal, Ryan Doumit six. Those battling for backup duty, by contrast, have been quite good: Raul Chavez, owner of an exceptional arm, is 1 for 2, and Michel Hernandez has thrown out both of his runners.
On the bright side for Paulino, in the afternoon game, he cleanly fielded his first throw from the outfield: Pearce threw a no-hop laser from right field as Chris Dickerson tried to score from third on a sacrifice fly. The throw beat Dickerson, and so did the tag, it appeared. But umpire Tim Welke ruled Dickerson safe.
Fun in the sun: The weather was no fun yesterday, the wind wreaking havoc with all aspects of the afternoon game. McLouth was backtracking on shallow popups, then sprinting forward to try to corral them, once in vain.
"Crazy day out there," Russell said.
The weather grew worse for the nightcap, with heavy rain, wind strong enough to bend the outfield palm trees and more than a few lightning bolts. The latter forced fans who had been seated in the exposed metal bleachers to crowd together under the three covered grandstands.
As if all that were not enough, the Pirates moved up a scheduled Zambelli fireworks display to be shown during the rain delay, which made for an extraordinary sight with rain and lightning as backdrops. The game was canceled afterward.
Inside pitch: The New York Mets, in need of a corner outfielder after learning they will be without Moises Alou for two months because of hernia surgery, have contacted the Pirates to inquire about Xavier Nady, a team source said yesterday. But there is no indication anything substantive is afoot or even likely.
The Pirates would seek prospects in any Nady trade, probably pitchers, and the Mets' system is not rich in that regard. Moreover, the Pirates see Nady's value rising over the summer if he can show he is healthy.
Countdown: 23 days to first pitch in Atlanta.
First Published March 8, 2008 12:00 am