Grapefruit Game 19: Blue Jays 3, Pirates 2

By Stephen J. Nesbitt / Pittsburgh Post-Gazette 3 years ago

DUNEDIN, Fla. — So far, so good with the latest Andrew McCutchen experiment. The idea behind moving McCutchen to second in the order this spring is to get him more plate appearances overall, and fewer with no outs and bases empty.

His three trips to the plate Sunday vs. the Blue Jays went like this:

• First inning — One on, no outs: Opposite-field, two-run home run, his fourth homer in his past five games.

• Third inning — Leading off: Walk.

• Fourth inning — Three on, two outs: Hard groundout up the middle.

• Sixth inning — One on, no outs: Strikeout swining.

Credit to leadoff man John Jaso, the OBP king who walked three times in four plate appearances.

Arquimedes Caminero turned in two perfect innings in relief, and he’s a guy who needed a good day. He entered Sunday’s game with 11 hits and nine runs allowed in 4 1/3 innings this spring.

“We revisited some things with him after his last outing,” manager Clint Hurdle said. ”One of the things we're keeping in our clubhouse is hunger. There's more to get done. The day you have is the day you have to get something done. We're not going to be of the mindset that we're just getting work in. Not saying that happened to him, but I think the focus and intent today was what we've normally seen from him when he's been aggressive. When he's aggressive, when he finishes pitches and stays on line, his stuff plays big-time. It played well today."

Despite the rough start, I’ve still got Caminero on the opening-day roster.

Ryan Vogelsong threw 79 pitches in a minor-league camp game and allowed just one run in five innings. He threw to Francisco Cervelli and faced hitters Sean Rodriguez, Jung Ho Kang and Matt Joyce.

“I was commanding the ball, commanding all my pitches,” Vogelsong said. “I’m really, really happy with it.”

The lone blemish came when Joyce ripped a full-count pitch to right for a home run.

“During the season I’m not throwing a lefty in Pittsburgh a 3-2 cutter, with the big left field,” Vogelsong explained. “But in that situation I’m like, yeah, I want to work on it, so I’m going to throw it. He hits it over the fence and you go, well, it’s OK.

“[The pitch] did want I wanted it to do, but that’s not what I’m going to do during the season, nine times out of 10. It gives you a chance to do that and not have to answer to you guys [media] about it. It’s good. You get out here and you can have some guys on base and create some situations to work on stuff. Good day’s work, overall.”

Vogelsong said his arm has felt stronger as camp has progressed.

“Obviously, I do a lot in the offseason to get ready, arm maintenance and throwing,” he said. “You get to a little point in spring training where you start to feel the grind a little bit. You wait to come out the other side, and that was me. My arm — no pain, don’t take this wrong — the grind of throwing every day and throwing extra to bases and stuff like that, it’s part of spring training. Now I’m coming out the other side of that and my arm feels great. I’m really, really happy where I’m at right now.”

After bouncing around between the San Francisco Giants rotation and bullpen last year, he is eager to be pitching exclusively out of the rotation in Pittsburgh.

“It’ll definitely be a lot easier on me, especially physically,” he said. “It took its toll on me a little bit, maybe physically and mentally, going back and forth. It’s going to be good. I’m excited. I’m going to be looking forward to it. It’s going to be a good year, I think.”