Andy Phillips and Jeff Salazer are said to be battling for a spot on the Pirates roster. Perhaps both will make it, but either way the competition seemed to help against the Twins. Salazar who was hitting .143 entering the game, hit a bases loaded double in the eighth to key a Bucco victory. The Pirates offense had 16 hits on the day in front of over 6,000 fans in the Florida sunshine.
Phillips stroked a single and a double in his final two at bats finishing the day 2 for 4 and raising his team leading RBI total to 7 in the Grapefruit League. He played second base, first base, and finished in right field. “It’s almost like Phillips has to check before going out to the field each inning,” said Bob Walk.
Brandon Moss suffered a sprained thumb and will be examined when the club returns to Bradenton tomorrow. But not to worry the red hot Garrett Jones substituted for Moss and went 2 for 3 with a walk (the lone out being a fly ball caught on the track in left field in the ninth.)
Adam LaRoche continued the solo home run trend with his first of the year, a no out blast in the second inning, helping him go for 2 for 4 on the day with 2 RBI. His brother Andy kept a scorching bat going 2 for 3 raising his average to .538 on the spring.
“The Pirates have shown very encouraging signs,” said Pirate broadcaster Bob Walk, “the damage in these games are being done by the players that are battling for a spot on the big league roster. Some ugly baserunning they got over early in the game, the pitchers only gave up five hits, and we pounded the Twins on offense.”
Zach Duke, D. McCutcheon, Hansen, Bootcheck, and Mateo combined on the five hitter for the pitching staff. “The focus as it gets later and later is the starting pitching. The starting rotation is what has to come together.”
Ohlendorf starts for the Pirates tomorrow against the Astros…we will also see other pitchers including Capps and Donald Veal.