Spring Training Recap: Tigers 8, Pirates 7

The Pirates took to the road for the first time this spring and lost to Detroit, 8-7.  The game ended on a home run in the bottom of the ninth off Osvaldo Bido.  The Pirates had tied it in the top of the eighth on a three-run, 433-foot shot by Travis Swaggerty.

The starter was Johan Oviedo, whose mission this spring is to make a case for a six-man rotation.  Instead, he made a case for ignoring September stats.  He threw everything right down the middle and gave up a ton of hard contact.  The Tigers got five hits and four runs in the first.  In the second, Oviedo managed to get the lasers aimed at fielders.

As a quick aside, a six-man rotation makes a lot of sense, assuming somebody looks better than Oviedo did today.  The Pirates are going to have one starter who’s 43, one who has a 5.87 ERA as a starter the last three years, and one who wore down late last year.  On the other hand, if you subscribe to The Athletic, Eno Sarris has a piece on dark horse pitchers that has a very positive, data-driven take on Mitch Keller.

In the daily bullpen battle, two of the more established relievers did well, two NRIs not so much.  Duane Underwood, Jr., struck out the side in his inning.  Chase De Jong got four outs without a run, although he walked two.

On the NRI side, Caleb Smith allowed a solo home run and Daniel Zamora gave up a two-run bomb.  Smith at least went an inning and two-thirds, so there’s that.

Two pitchers from minor league camp finished.  Bido got only one out before allowing the winner.  Juan Minaya (I had to look him up — sorry, Juan) threw a scoreless eighth.  Minaya pitched well for the Twins in 2021, but had a very rough year last year, hence the minor league deal without an invite.

On the lineup side, the Pirates continued the task of examining positional issues.  Ji-Hwan Bae and Rodolfo Castro were both in the lineup, with Castro at third.  Potentially, he could allow them to give Ke’Bryan Hayes a regular break as DH.  Jack Suwinski played center again, as they’re no doubt deciding whether he can back up Bryan Reynolds there.  Endy Rodriguez played first.

The middle of the lineup (2-5) didn’t have much of a day.  Bae, Castro, Suwinski and Cal Mitchell all went 0-for-3, with Bae fanning three times and Suwinski twice.  Bae remains hitless on the spring.

Oneil Cruz had two hits, including his first longball of the season, an opposite-field shot off a pitch low and away.  Rodriguez was 1-for-2 with a double.  He scored on a single by Matt Gorski.

The “second team” had a solid day.  Apart from Swaggerty, Liover Peguero had an RBI single in two times up, and Nick Gonzales singled and walked.  Henry Davis successfully employed evasive maneuvers and walked his only time up.

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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When I saw Oviedo pitch in Pittsburgh the last month of the season, his stuff looked filthy. He looked good in a simulated inning at practice last week. Last night at the game, he had little or no movement on his pitches. I don’t want to give up on this guy too early in spring and still think he can be a solid piece in the rotation this year.


Yesterday should have zero bearing in what you think of Oviedo. Spring training results DO NOT MATTER and when we talk about “competition” in spring training the results in games are only a small part of the decision making process. Swaggerty’ shot start also is meaningless. Resist the temptation to put any importance on these outcomes. It is a cliche but so many of us cannot help ourselves and we pretend these are real games and that players are doing what they would do in season. They are probably not. Note Oviedo trying a new pitch.

Bucs'N'Pucks (Jeff Reed)

Unfortunately, so far, his “new” sinker is just his 4-seam with a new grip. Savant didn’t even recognize a new pitch (not that Savant is the end-all-be-all)


A sinker that stays middle middle!….I guess that’s what ST is for. Practice.


Liberty Media released Braves financials yesterday. The highlights:

Income up by $20 mm
OIBDA (profit) was $71mm, down from $104mm previous year due to increase in payroll and 6 fewer playoff games.

Bottom line is Braves are doing very well financially even after committing a ton of money to extend numerous players.

BN should take a page from LM’s playbook and extend the core players to show fans they want to change the culture of the organization. Cruz would be a nice place to start.

Not holding my breath.


I’m not seeing this…looks like EBITDA was -$80mm when you remove Battery Development and stock based comp.

If you add-back ITDA ($29mm + $8mm + $71mm), earnings are approximately $28mm.


Completely agree; I was just showing the numbers. True operating profit would be $71mm less $28mm for the Battery, or $43mm.


I suppose it’s all in how you look at the numbers.

If you take a new job with an increase in pay, do you tell your wife your new gross salary or the net increase to your take home pay? Neither answer is wrong.


The right answer is you don’t tell your wife what you make.


How many divorce lawyers are you on a first name basis with?


In May my wife and I will celebrate our 34th anniversary.


That’s awesome! Congrats! 21 for me and my bride next week.


For the record my best friend and business partner is an attorney.


Nice rundown Wilbur, really need these on no TV days!


Minaya with 6 swing and miss pitches…..in one inning…..that’s really impressive.


Two more good ABs for Nick Knock



Why in heavens name would they EVER want to DH Hayes? No offense to him, but his value is almost all wrapped up in his defense. I think that Shelton would be silly (and not very analytically clever) to do this. So…of course they might try.


The days of a player playing 3B for 162 games are in the rear view mirror. The DH position is an option to give a player an off day in the field, but keep his bat in the lineup. DS would be foolish to not take advantage of this option.


No, I get the day off concept. I just don’t want a (to this point) below average bat in the lineup over the guys we hired to do that sort of thing, like Cutch and Santana. I mean, even putting Reynolds at the DH on his “off day” makes more sense than Hayes at this point. Give the young guy his 10-12 days off during the season on the bench, with the promise of a late pinch hit appearance. That is, until his bat develops into the weapon I think it might. I love Key, just not as a bat-only DH at this point, even for one day.


Ok. That’s understandable.


But….I am hoping by July I am SCREAMING for his MVP bat to be in the line up as DH on his days off. 🙂


That was Dan’s way of saying Hayes’ bat sucks, if he’s the same offensive player he was last year I’d agree with Dan, but I think Hayes, with a healthy year, is going to surprise people so the DH makes sense if that’s the case.


I agree with the potential in the bat. I am actually really excited to see if some offseason tinkering has given him the launch angle to go with the bodacious EV and new body mass. Listen-I am Key’s biggest fan, but let’s not get the cart before the horse, Pirate management. Glue him to 3rd base, then if he shows that he is DH-worthy come May or June based on early season results, then I can go with the occasional day. It’s just that at this point, I’d rather see Key sitting on the bench on his “rest day” and let the above league average vets that we acquired man the DH spot.


totally agree, especially given his injury history so far…back issues don’t make me all warm and fuzzy but hopefully that new bulk he’s added gets the core where it needs to be to let him be the player we hope he can be.


Is there no highlights of this game or at least of swaggerty’a homer?


I saw the TSwag HR on Twitter, but don’t ask me what feed it was. MJ is correct. It was torched.


An absolute bomb to the wall in dead center with 2 on and the score 7-4 in favor of the Tigers in the top of the 8th. If I recall correctly, he made excellent contact the first time up also. Glad to see it and yes, he needs to get some reps in CF, and AB’s. He will probably start the year at AAA, but is proving he has value. Suwinski (CF) threw out a runner trying to stretch a single into a double – a rifle for an arm and got him on a bang-bang play.

I was looking at him from the boxes at 3B, but it looks like Suwinski has dropped his exaggerated open stance. Cruz hit a rocket to 2B the first time up before hitting the low pitch on the outer 3rd of the plate over the fence down the LF line.

First time at Publix Field, but a very nice venue. Infield box 2 rows up at 3B for $28. Food was great especially the Strawberry shortcake over ice cream, and the beer was very cold on a very hot day.

Friendly folks. Jim Leyland sighting also!


A few “forgots” – Nunez got robbed on a sharp grounder up the middle that the SS dove stopped and threw him out on a close play; He also hit LD to RC that the RF made a good play to get. The Pirates IF defense was strong – VG 5-4-3 DP Castro/Bae/Rodriguez.

Endy was one of the only players to come over to 3B and sign for kids; Lakeland is only about 45 minutes on 4 from Orlando. Thankfully, the Interstate was not a parking lot as it sometimes gets during the construction work. Publix Field has a huge parking lot, $10 per vehicle, and we exited after the game with very little traffic issues.


Good to hear, I’ve always been a swaggerty guy I think he just got set back with injury and his baby last year. Excited to see him. Thank you for the great description !


Very surprised at Bae K’ing 3 times.


To me, it looks like Bae has a swing where he tries to spray the ball a certain direction. His timing might be a little slow still. I’d like to see this guy on the bases.


Swaggerty needs to be in CF.


I was at today’s spring training game today. Swaggerty gunned down a runner at the plate on a fly. It was one of the best throws I have ever seen.


You must not be old enough to have seen 21 in RF. It was a great throw on par with those.


Roberto Clemente is the main reason this guy from Illinois became a Pirate fan. I’ve seen better by Dave Parker as well, but never in person.


Certainly would make things a lot tidier.


Agreed. Give him 3 months, see what he does.


It’s March 1rst. Let’s wait until the third week of March when pitchers start pitching and not just stretching out before we anoint Swaggerty as the new CF

b mcferren

the hitting is just a bonus

he can play plus defense in CF and bat in front of Hedges for all I care

b mcferren

while Joe k´s versus the NRI´s

b mcferren



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