Spring Training Recap: Blue Jays 9, Pirates 7

We will have recaps of the Pirates’ exhibition games this spring.  These won’t be blow-by-blow accounts of the games.  It doesn’t really matter at this point who got the key hit, etc.  It’ll be more of a running summary of how the roster is shaping up.

The Pirates opened their spring schedule on Saturday afternoon with a 9-7 loss to Toronto.

The opening lineup featured maybe the chief position battle, with both Rodolfo Castro and Ji-Hwan Bae as the two main competitors for second base.  Castro played third in this one and had the biggest blow on offense, a grand slam off former Pirate Zach Thompson.  That was the team’s only extra-base hit.  Castro finished 1-for-3, while Bae was 0-for-1 with a walk.

Otherwise, the lineup featured more established regulars than you might normally see at this point in spring.  Oneil Cruz (1-for-3), Andrew McCutchen (0-for-3), Carlos Santana (1-for-2, BB) and Austin Hedges (1-for-2) all started.  Maybe this is a sign of the team’s newly developed seriousness.

The outfield battle also got some play, with mixed results.  Jack Suwinski whiffed in both his at-bats.  So did Miguel Andujar, who probably has a non-zero chance of making the team.  Connor Joe walked in his two plate appearances and Cal Mitchell went 1-for-3 with two strikeouts.  The Pirates fanned 16 times in all.

Once the starters came out around mid-game, the 2022 Altoona Curve largely took over.  Of interest:  Liover Peguero went 2-for-2 with two RBIs, Nick Gonzales whiffed both times up, and Henry Davis naturally got hit by a pitch his first time up.  Jared Triolo played first.

Mitch Keller started the game with two uneventful innings, but several of the more established relievers had rough debuts.

David Bednar gave up three runs on a walk and two bombs. Jarlin Garcia served up one gopher ball and two runs.  Duane Underwood Jr., allowed three runs, two earned, and gave up four hits in his inning.  Two lefties on NRIs, Daniel Zamora and Rob Zastryzny, each threw a scoreless inning.

Having followed the Pirates fanatically since 1965, Wilbur Miller is one of the fast-dwindling number of fans who’ve actually seen good Pirate teams. He’s even seen Hall-of-Fame Pirates who didn’t get traded mid-career, if you can imagine such a thing. His first in-person game was a 5-4, 11-inning win at Forbes Field over Milwaukee (no, not that one). He’s been writing about the Pirates at various locations online for over 20 years. It has its frustrations, but it’s certainly more cathartic than writing legal stuff. Wilbur is retired and now lives in Bradenton with his wife and three temperamental cats.

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The three best takeaways from ST Opener were:

  1. Keller looking sharp, picking up right where he left off. We can’t afford any relapse to the “old lacking confidence” Keller. He needs to be an ace.
  2. Castro shows the power (from the left-side too) this lineup needs
  3. Santana can play 1B just fine (sss)

Its discouraging that the Pirates 2023 team will not only be bad, but also old. Until this organization does a better job drafting and developing its talent, it will be in this perpetual cycle of signing low budget old players to try to stay relevant. Organizations like the Orioles are doing it right with competent management executing a true rebuild. But, it requires competent drafting and player development.

BTW, although guaranteed a bullpen spot, Underwood shows again how sub par of a major league pitcher he is – and he didn’t even face many major league hitters yesterday. Pirates management shows their incompetence by keeping guys like him around, despite their performance.

This team will again lose around 100 games and most if not all of the guys like Cutch, Choi, Hedges, Santana, Valasquez, etc. will all be traded or DFA’d by August. Cutch is a feel good story, but he is long past being a productive major league player. The organization just continues to block its own prospects and they wonder why they rot on the vine in AAA.


If you believe that you are not a fan but a really sad soul. There’s every reason to believe that youth is on the horizon and management is making solid moves. Go post on the Oriole site if you love them so much. You did get one thing right, Cutch is a feel good story and he looks great in that uniform again where he always belonged.


You save up this rant the whole off-season? GTFOH. Clearly you haven’t followed any movement with a limp dick complaint like this at the first ST game


They acquired Joe in large part for his plate discipline and that showed yesterday. Joe and Bae batting back-to-back has me thinking how nice a Bae-Joe-Reynolds lineup might look in front of Cruz. You put guys with their OBPs in the top 3 spots and in a large majority of games, we’d still get to see Cruz bat in the 1st but with runners on.


Mark this day, a Pirate, Rodolfo Castro, is probably at least tied for most HR and RBI’s. And, he hit the Grand Slam batting Lefty. His power has been mostly from the right side.


Lots of comments about the pitch clock on the Brubaker/game thread. It needs modified. Check out Braves batter called out in their game, two out, bases loaded in B9th!! It’s laughable.


From SI:

The rule also limits hitters to one timeout per plate appearance and allows pitchers to step off the rubber (at which point the clock resets) twice per plate appearance. 

But maybe because the kid plays for the Braves, he didn’t think the rules applied to him so why bother using a timeout? 😉

As John says, once players adjust their timing, it won’t be noticeable. Though I wouldn’t disagree with them locating the clock in a place which isn’t so obvious on TV.

John Dreker

The pitch clock has been going for two years in the minors and you almost never see it called. Once players get used to it, you won’t even notice it until someone gets called for it. Fans will just forget about it even being there because you’ll rarely see it called if you only watch one team. I sit here watching four minor league teams and I’d be surprised if I saw more than ten violations all year last year.

b mcferren

Except for that giant orange eyesore clock in the backdrop of each batter

Talk about wasted ad space


You can bet major leaguers will bitch about it much more than in the minor leaguers have (which is never). Some media type will try and make a big deal about it, but the overall impact is tiny. I’ve also noticed the umpires are pretty good about ignoring the clock when the need arises. It is a huge plus for anyone watching.


The Milb umps may ignore the clock, but I hardly expect that with MLB umps.


Exactly. They can’t afford to ignore it one time if they expect to end games because of it


Thanks for the EV’s. Happy for contact, and 100+ EV’s are even more special in the first game, from a MI.


Yeah I saw that – very good start

I don’t remember Keller having 7 different pitches

Perhaps he’s trying some new stuff this spring


The cutter came in between 88 and 90. Could be a good pitch especially glove side.


This generation’s Jason Schmidt.


Not going to enjoy Conner Joe on the roster. He’s both stupid looking and bad at baseball.


Saw Conner Joe in Charleston in 2015. My wife and his parents were the only Asians in the whole ball park


That hair cut isn’t as stupid looking as it is just bad looking. Like an ugly cocker spaniel.


Potatoes, patatos. I’m already prepared to be glad when he’s off the roster haha.


Davis also had a sac fly. Keller looked good.


Thanks Wilbur – out of town for a few weeks so will be looking forward to your summaries

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