Spring Synopsis: Ohlendorf sputters vs. Dutch
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The game: Ross Ohlendorf had a shaky start, but Garrett Jones had three RBIs and Jeff Salazar a solo home run as a cast of Pirates reserves won, 5-4, against the Netherlands' entry into the World Baseball Classic yesterday at McKechnie Field in Bradenton, Fla.
Ohlendorf, one of several candidates in a largely unsettled rotation, threw hard but elevated too many pitches -- especially his changeup -- in giving up a run and four hits over two innings. He did not strike out anyone despite facing a lineup with no active major leaguers.
"He wasn't quite as sharp as last time," manager John Russell said, referring to Ohlendorf's two perfect innings against the Boston Red Sox last week. "He tried to do some things with the change, and they didn't work, but it's a big pitch for him."
As a result, Ohlendorf was sent to the bullpen after his outing to throw extra changeups.
"I'm throwing harder now than I was last September," Ohlendorf said. "Overall, I felt fine. There were a couple of hard-hit balls in the second."
First-round draft pick Pedro Alvarez, getting his first start at third base, went 0 for 4 with two strikeouts and stranded four runners.
Today: The Pirates' Tom Gorzelanny will face the Minnesota Twins' Francisco Liriano, 1:05 p.m. at McKechnie. Chris Bootcheck, Tyler Yates and Craig Hansen will follow.
Other news: In Fort Myers, Ian Snell pitched three scoreless innings -- one hit, three strikeouts -- for the Puerto Rican national team in an exhibition against the Twins.
The Pirates signed a Latin American amateur, right-handed pitcher Jean Carlos Ozoria, from the Dominican Republic. He turns 17 next week, is 6 feet 3 and has a 91-mph fastball, curveball and changeup.
Camp roster: 57, with 28 pitchers, six catchers, 14 infielders and nine outfielders.
Injury update: Utilityman Luis Cruz aggravated his left hip flexor while legging out a first inning double and exited before the top of the second. His status is day to day.
Competition: Rule 5 draft pick Donnie Veal, continuing his strong bid for a bullpen job, made a fourth consecutive scoreless appearance by striking out the side in the sixth. Two of those came with serious heat, the last with a knee-buckling curve.
Veal, who has a history of control trouble, has walked one batter this spring.
"I'm not surprised," Russell said. "I saw a lot of progress and consistency in his work with us this offseason. He's throwing very well. I like that he's throwing his breaking ball for strikes, too."
Fun in the sun: The Mayor was in the house. Sean Casey, the Upper St. Clair native recently retired from the Boston Red Sox and new to MLB Network, was doing his usual hugging and handshaking in the Pirates' clubhouse as part of a semi-professional visit.
Any retirement regrets?
"Aw, no, not at all," he replied, wide smile and all. "When you've got kids, your priority is to stay home and enjoy their lives. And I'd much rather have that than spend another year on the bench."
Inside pitch: Chuck Tanner, now a senior adviser, offered his surprise picks to click this spring: Neil Walker and Chris Bootcheck. Walker has played a slick third base, and Bootcheck has made three scoreless relief appearances.
"Look at Walker's tools," Tanner said. "What can't he do?"
Meet me in St. Louis: 34 days until the opener.
First Published March 4, 2009 12:00 am