The Tribune Democrat, Johnstown, PA

February 28, 2014

Blue Jays pin loss on Pirates

By JEFF ODOM
Associated Press

Dunedin, Fla. — Colby Rasmus drove in two runs, Dioner Navarro hit an RBI double and the Toronto Blue Jays topped the Pittsburgh Pirates 4-2 on Friday.

Pedro Alvarez doubled twice and scored both runs for Pittsburgh.

Rasmus hit an RBI single in the first inning off Gerrit Cole. Navarro’s double scored Rasmus.

Cole struck out two and gave up three hits in two innings.

After spending last season with the Chicago Cubs, Navarro signed a two-year, $8 million contract with the Blue Jays in the offseason.

Navarro, who batted .300 with 13 home runs for the Cubs, said he has been taking extra swings to improve at the plate. His main focus, however, is getting to know the pitching staff.

“Every time I get the opportunity, I jump in the cage. But right now it’s all about the pitchers,” Navarro said. “Especially with me coming to a new team (and) seeing a lot of new faces. It’s all about them. I will get my swings in. I will do my work.”

Blue Jays starter Mark Buehrle allowed one earned run in two innings. He gave up two hits, one walk and struck out one.

Blue Jays outfield prospect Ricardo Nanita hit an RBI triple in the eighth.

Matt Hague hit an RBI single and Gaby Sanchez doubled for the Pirates.

Toronto star Jose Bautista, who homered and doubled twice in the first two exhibition games, was given the day off.

Cole had a rocky first inning, giving up three hits and two runs.

But the right-hander settled down in the second, striking out Dan Johnson and Ryan Goins and getting Maicer Izturis on a grounder.

“I don’t overcook their first outing,” Pirates manager Clint Hurdle said of his pitchers. “They need to get out there. They need to reacquaint themselves with adrenaline, mound, rhythm and all that.”

“I thought Cole’s second inning was much more effective, just in terms of downhill plane, getting the ball downhill, mixing in the breaking ball.”

For the first time since sustaining a season-ending forearm injury last May, right-hander Brandon Morrow appeared in a game with the Blue Jays.