Spring Synopsis: Walker looking good at third
Pirate Kevin Thompson poses for Topps Baseball Cards as his teammates get a good laugh from his photo shoot.
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Walker made a great play on a slow roller by Pudge Rodriguez and threw him out easily. Moments later, he dived to his right to spear a Magglio Ordonez ground ball and raced to third for an inning-ending force play.
"I'm much more comfortable and more confident," said Walker, who officially moved from catcher to third last spring. "Before, I would have been a little hesitant on those plays. But, as far as having the deer-in-the-headlights look, I've come seven-fold in that regard."
Walker spent much of yesterday watching Detroit third baseman Brandon Inge.
"He got to third base and I was talking to him," Walker said. "He said the biggest thing is the first step and trying to get a good jump on each ball."
The Pirates tied the score with four runs off closer Todd Jones in the ninth, the last two scoring on outfielder Kevin Thompson's double.
Raul Chavez, in the mix for backup catcher, gave the Pirates a short-lived lead in the top of the 10th with a home run, his second hit of the afternoon.
"He's done well," manager John Russell said. "He's had a couple big hits. He's received the ball pretty well and thrown the ball pretty well."
Outfielder Freddy Guzman won it for Detroit with a two-out, three-run home run off Casey Fossum in the bottom of the 10th.
Left-hander Phil Dumatrait started for the Pirates. He zipped through his first two innings but yielded five runs (three earned) in his next two innings.
An error by shortstop Chris Gomez helped the Tigers score three runs in the third, but each of the five hits Dumatrait allowed were sharply struck.
"The first two innings, I located the ball really well," Dumatrait said. "The next two innings, when I tried to pitch inside, I was flying open and elevated the ball. You can't make a mistake against that lineup -- and [Gary] Sheffield wasn't even in there. That's probably the best lineup in baseball. That lineup -- phew! -- they have power one through nine."
Dumatrait, who made six starts for Cincinnati last season, could be a starter for the Pirates. He also could be used in middle or long relief. Did he read anything into pitching four innings yesterday?
"No," he said.
Today: The Pirates' Ian Snell is scheduled to start today against the Philadelphia Phillies in Bradenton. Byung-Hyun Kim is expected to make his spring debut in relief. J.D. Durbin is scheduled to start for the Phillies.
Battle lines: Outfielder Steve Pearce went 0 for 5 and dropped a fly ball in right field, while Andrew McCutchen, 4 for 23 before yesterday, went 2 for 5
Camp roster: 63, with 37 pitchers, 5 catchers, 13 infielders and 8 outfielders. That number will drop significantly today.
General manager Neal Huntington and manager John Russell met with coaches and other Pirates personnel for more than an hour early yesterday morning to discuss the roster cuts.
Fun in the sun: Don Fehr, executive director of the players union, will meet with the Pirates this morning during his annual tour of spring training camps.
Countdown to Atlanta: 21 days.
First Published March 10, 2008 12:00 am