The game between Escogido and Cibaenas in the Dominican on Saturday night was not kind to the Pittsburgh Pirates. On one side, you had Starling Marte going 0-for-3 with a strikeout, before getting hit by a pitch and leaving the game early. On the other side, you have Edwin Espinal, who just reached minor league free agency this week, driving in six runs with a two-run single in the first inning and a grand slam in the eighth inning (see video at the end of this article). He accounted for all of the offense in a 6-3 victory.
There was no update as of late last night for Marte. From eyewitness accounts on Twitter, it sounded like he got hit in the helmet and it looked bad to some, but he also ran the bases briefly, getting forced out at second base one batter later. He did not come back out on defense during a 2-2 game in the eighth inning. This happened one day after he hit his first winter home run. I’ll post an update if there is one.
It wasn’t completely bad for the Pirates on Saturday and they could still end up re-signing Espinal, who has likely drawn some extra attention with his strong winter (.878 OPS through 19 games). Pablo Reyes was also in the same game and he went 2-for-4 with a run scored. He hasn’t hit his stride yet this winter, now owning a .228/.297/.281 slash line through 19 games.
Anderson Feliz had a tough night, going 0-for-4 with three strikeouts. He still has a .986 OPS through 15 games, so he was due for an off-day.
Jung-Ho Kang had his second night off this week.
In Venezuela, Elvis Escobar went 2-for-4 with a run scored. He was thrown out attempting to steal, leaving him 2-for-5 in that department this winter. He’s hitting .287/.336/.347 through 26 games.
In Mexico, Carlos Munoz went 0-for-2 with a sacrifice bunt, a hit-by-pitch and he committed his fourth error. He has a .284 average through 26 games.
In Australia, the league is playing exhibition games this weekend, then the real games begin on Thursday. Four Pirates are expected to participate in the league. Michael Suchy and Arden Pabst will be with Sydney, a team managed by Tony Harris, who has been an international scout for the Pirates for many years. Robbie Glendinning, a 2017 draft pick, will also play in the league, though his original plans indicated he would get a late start. Reliever Sam Street should also pitch in the league.
The Espinal homer: