The Tribune Democrat, Johnstown, PA

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March 27, 2014

Pirates stymied by Sabathia, Yankees in Grapefruit finale

BRADENTON, Fla. — New York Yankees ace CC Sabathia pitched four scoreless innings in his final tuneup for opening day, a 4-2 victory over the Pittsburgh Pirates on Thursday.

Pitching in a steady drizzle, Sabathia faced 13 batters, allowed three hits and got five ground-ball outs. He finished spring training with 17 scoreless innings.

“I had some easy innings,” Sabathia said. “I worked on making sure my location was good on a couple pitches. I threw the two-seamer pretty good and got some ground balls with it.”

Coming off the poorest season of his big league career, Sabathia starts Tuesday at Houston.

Ichiro Suzuki went 3 for 3 with one RBI and a run scored. Eduardo Nunez and Mark Teixeira also had one RBI apiece.

Pittsburgh’s Stolmy Pimentel allowed four runs and nine hits in four innings, struck out three and walked one.

It was the Florida finale for the Pirates, who play the Phillies today and Saturday in Philadelphia and then host the Chicago Cubs on Monday in their opener.

Starting time

Yankees: Sabathia said he mixed in about five-to-10 cut fastballs and was pleased with the results.

“A couple of them backed up,” Sabathia said. “But I threw a couple that they swung and missed and I got ground balls on a couple. So, I feel good.”

The 33-year-old left-hander said he feels stronger than he did at the end of spring training last year, when he was coming off elbow surgery. He went 14-13 with a 4.78 ERA last season.

“A big difference, strength-wise,” Sabathia said. “My arm feels good. My body feels good. No aches and pains, so I’m ready to go.”

Pirates: Pimentel is slated to open the season in the bullpen as a long reliever but will be a candidate for spot starts.

Just 24, he will be a candidate for the starting rotation in 2015, when the Pirates may have to replace Wandy Rodriguez, Francisco Liriano and Edinson Volquez.

Trainer’s room

Pirates: Liriano (left groin) reported no ill effects one day after throwing a simulated game and remains on track to be the opening-day starter. It was the first time he’d thrown off a mound in nearly a week.

“It didn’t bother me at all,” Liriano said. “I feel normal. I think I’m ready to go.”

The left-hander’s final hurdle will come Saturday, when he is to throw a bullpen session in Philadelphia.

“It’s a balance between making sure we don’t put him in harm’s way and making sure we respect his desire to compete when he says he’s ready to go,” General Manager Neal Huntington said.

Yankees: Center fielder Jacoby Ellsbury took batting practice and ran the bases after playing in two consecutive days of minor league games. He had missed the previous 1½ weeks due to right calf tightness.

Ellsbury is scheduled to play in games today and Saturday, and is expected to be ready for the opener.

Roster moves

Pirates: Right-hander Brandon Cumpton was optioned to Triple-A Indianapolis. Last season, he went 2-1 with a 2.05 ERA in six outings with the Pirates, including five spot starts.

Pittsburgh acquired outfielder Keon Broxton from the Arizona Diamondbacks for a player to be named and assigned him to Double-A Altoona. The 23-year-old was a third-round pick in the 2009 amateur dft.

Yankees: Right-hander Preston Claiborne, catcher Austin Romine and outfielder Zoilo Almonte were optioned to Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre. New York reassigned right-handers Danny Burawa, David Herndon, Chris Leroux, Jim Miller and Yoshinori Tateyama, left-hander Fred Lewis, and infielders Scott Sizemore and Russ Canzler to its minor league camp.

With the moves, New York native Dellin Betances likely has earned a bullpen role. Betances threw one scoreless inning Thursday. Final cuts could be made today.

Final preparations

Pirates: Right-hander Volquez will remain in Florida for extended spring training after the Pirates break camp. He’s scheduled to throw up to 100 pitches Sunday in a minor league game. Volquez, who signed a $5 million deal in December, is to make his Pirates debut April 6 at home against the St. Louis Cardinals.

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