The Tribune Democrat, Johnstown, PA

Sports

March 11, 2013

Pirates split squads come away winners

SARASOTA, Fla. — Miguel Gonzalez was Baltimore’s second-leading winner last season and hopes to build on that success.

But on Sunday, he allowed four runs in two innings to a split squad of Pittsburgh Pirates in the Orioles’ 5-2 loss.

Gonzalez made his second appearance this spring and allowed a four-run second that was made worse by left fielder Nate McLouth’s error.

With one out in the second, Brad Hawpe hit a ball to left-center that McLouth had a hard time handling on a windy day. McLouth was charged with an error, and quickly four runs scored on four hits. Three of the runs were unearned.

“I don’t think anybody that was here today could have caught the ball that Nate tried to catch,” manager Buck Showalter said.

Chris Tillman was supposed to start on Sunday, but he was scratched on Saturday night with abdominal soreness. Showalter and Tillman both said he could have pitched during the regular season.

Gonzalez, who would have followed Tillman, started instead.

“I felt great in the ‘pen. Just one of those days,” Gonzalez said. “Things weren’t working when I went on the field.”

Even the Orioles’ Gold Glove catcher couldn’t help Gonzalez.

“(Matt) Wieters tried to do his best to calm me down. The wind was bad today, so I thought McLouth had that ball, but it’s not easy when the wind is not blowing your way,” Gonzalez said.

Showalter has tentatively penciled in Jason Hammel, Wei-Yin Chen, Tillman and Gonzalez as his first four starters.

After Gonzalez’s truncated start, Jim Johnson and Darren O’Day pitched scoreless innings in their first official appearances.

Gerrit Cole, the first pick in the 2011 draft, allowed a two-run homer to Ryan Flaherty in the third inning. Cole was charged with two runs and four hits in four innings.

“Overall, good work,” Cole said. “Got through four, so that’s good, pretty efficient.”

Cole is ticketed for the minors, but should make it to Pittsburgh later in the season.

Catcher Russell Martin, who has been nursing a sore shoulder, caught for just the second time this spring, and the first time since Feb. 24. Martin liked what he saw from Cole.

“He’s got a good feel out on the mound. He’s got a good plan and he’s able to execute it,” Martin said.

“He’s a smart kid. Of course he’s got ability like not a lot of people have, but he’s pitching with his mind and he has a plan. I feel like he’s pretty polished for a young guy,” he said.

Flaherty, who ended Thursday’s game with a three-run homer, continues to impress in his attempt to secure a roster spot. He stayed with Baltimore in 2012 as a Rule 5 draft choice and is competing for a utility spot.

“He’s doing the things to put himself in the position to make it,” Showalter said.

Pirates 7, Twins 4: Andrew McCutchen, Gaby Sanchez and Tony Sanchez hit home runs for the Pirates. McCutchen’s drive went off the scoreboard.

Jonathan Sanchez, in his first spring training start and fourth appearance, gave up two runs and two hits in two innings. Sanchez has an 11.81 ERA in 5 1⁄3 innings during the exhibition season.

Minnesota’s Liam Hendricks, making his fourth spring training start, allowed four runs and three hits in three innings.

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