The Tribune Democrat, Johnstown, PA

Sports

March 24, 2013

Martin gets tossed from Pirates’ loss

BRADENTON, Fla. — Pittsburgh Pirates catcher Russell Martin couldn’t recall ever being ejected from a spring training game before.

“Not that I can remember, but I’ll have to check the archives,” Martin said with a laugh Sunday after he was tossed during a 12-10 loss to the Baltimore Orioles.

Martin was ejected in the top of the first inning for arguing balls and strikes with plate umpire Chad Fairchild.

“I don’t expect anybody to be perfect,” Martin said. “It’s just that when I communicate, whether it’s with a co-worker or anyone, there needs to be a certain respect and rapport. I felt like it just wasn’t there between myself and the umpire. He’s a good guy, I know he is. But in the heat of the moment, I probably let my emotions get the best of me and he did, too.”

Pirates pitcher Chris Leroux left the game at the same time Martin did. Leroux wasn’t ejected, though. He was yanked after giving up eight runs in one-third of an inning.

“Eight runs is probably the worst inning I’ve ever had,” Leroux said. “Let’s all be happy it was in spring training. Sometimes my sinker would sink too much and I wouldn’t be able to control it. I didn’t throw my slider as much as I normally do. I’ve been sharp up to this point. It was just one day.”

Leroux originally was scheduled to pitch in relief, but he made an emergency start when right-hander Jeff Karstens was scratched due to shoulder pain.

Despite the rocky outing, Leroux will open the season in the Pirates’ bullpen. Karstens probably will go on the disabled list.

Karstens went into spring training slated to be the team’s No. 4 starter, with the fifth spot up for grabs. Now, general manager Neal Huntington has another hole to fill.

“We’ve kept four guys stretched out as Plan B, hoping we wouldn’t have to use Plan B,” Huntington said. “It looks like we’re going to have to use it. Now we’ve got a decision among four (pitchers) for two spots. We were hoping to have four for one.”

Left-handers Jeff Locke and Jonathan Sanchez and right-handers Kyle McPherson and Jeanmar Gomez are the candidates. So far, no clear leader has emerged.

The Orioles got five hits, including Dickerson’s grand slam and Wilson Betemit’s two-run double, off Leroux in the first.

Andrew McCutchen hit a two-run homer off Brian Matusz in the bottom of the inning.

Matusz is on the fringe of the competition for the Orioles’ fifth starter job. He didn’t help himself by allowing five runs and nine hits in four innings.

“You never want to have an outing like this,” Matusz said. “I never found a rhythm and didn’t pitch well. I was able to get my work in, throw pitches, and be able to use all four pitches, but I was leaving the ball up in the zone. They were hitting them.”

The Pirates scored five runs in the sixth to tie it at 10.

With two outs in the seventh, Steve Pearce, a former player of the year in the Pirates’ minor league system, homered off Mike Zagurski to put Baltimore ahead again.

Pearce added an RBI single in the ninth.

Notes: The teams had 15 hits apiece. The Pirates made four errors. ... Pirates C Lucas May, who replaced Martin after the ejection, went 3-for-5 with a walk and two RBI. ... Orioles OF Trayvon Robinson left in the top of the first after hitting a single. “He felt something in his lower back.,” manager Buck Showalter said.

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