The Tribune Democrat, Johnstown, PA


February 26, 2013

Locke, McPherson vying for fifth spot

BRADENTON, Fla. — The Pittsburgh Pirates are giving two youngsters a fair shot at winning the fifth starter spot in their rotation.

Left-hander Jeff Locke and right-hander Kyle McPherson were impressive in their first outings of spring training. Neither got a chance to pitch Tuesday because the Pirates game against the Baltimore Orioles was rained out.

Orioles starter Chris Tillman was pushed back to start Wednesday against the Red Sox.

Locke got late-season callups in each of the past two seasons, and has tossed a total of 51 innings in the majors, going a combined 1-6 with a 5.82 ERA. McPherson made his big league debut last year – 0-2 with a 2.73 ERA in 10 games, three starts.

“You try to get your foot in the door,” McPherson said. “Once you get your foot in the door, you try to push it open and get established. That’s what Locke and I are doing at this stage of the game. We’re going to go toe to toe and see how it shakes out.”

The Pirates have veterans in the top four spots of their rotation: A.J. Burnett, Wandy Rodriguez, James McDonald and Jeff Karstens.

Rodriguez was scheduled to start Tuesday. Instead, he will follow Burnett on Wednesday.

Shoulder soreness forced McPherson to leave winter ball after just a few days last winter, so the Pirates don’t want to rush him early in camp. Against the Twins, he needed only 15 pitches to retire the six batters he faced.

“For Kyle’s first time out, our biggest interest was in the up and down twice,” manager Clint Hurdle said. “We’ve got plenty of time to get his pitch count where it needs to be.”

Locke was scheduled to work two innings against the Rays, but was so efficient he wound up going three.

“I kept going until they told me I was done,” Locke said, grinning.

“It felt good to get out there and compete, especially against someone wearing a different jersey.”

Locke walked one, struck out one and did not allow a hit. He threw just 32 pitches, 18 of them strikes.

If Locke seems a bit ahead of schedule, he said it’s because he arrived at Pirate City in mid-January, about a month before camp opened, and settled into a regular throwing routine.

“That definitely has something to do with how (good) I feel right now,” Locke said.

“We’ve tried to build our winter throwing program the last two years,” Hurdle said. “This is a by-product of that.”

Baltimore right-hander Luis Ayala won’t pitch for a few weeks, manager Buck Showalter said.

The Orioles want to rest him because he pitched in the Mexican Winter League. Ayala has also been dealing with flu-like symptoms.

Notes:  Rodriguez will make one more start for the Pirates after pitching Wednesday then leave to pitch for the Dominican Republic in the World Baseball Classic. ... RHPs Jim Johnson and Darren O’Day aren’t scheduled for their first appearance until March 6 when the Orioles play Spain’s entry in the World Baseball Classic. ... RHP Jason Hammel, who missed much of the second half of the season after right knee surgery, is scheduled to start on Friday against the Pirates.

Text Only | Photo Reprints
  • racin 0416 Jennerstown Speedway gearing for May open

    Jennerstown Speedway released a very ambitious schedule on its website and continues to prepare for its 2014 reopening.
    The track is set to hold a practice day for drivers as well as an open house and media day on April 26.

    April 16, 2014 2 Photos

  • ‘Hawks already building toward next season

    Jason Spence used up his cell phone’s battery on a trip from Johnstown to his parents’ home in Nova Scotia, Canada.
    Once the Johnstown Tomahawks coach got to his destination, Spence had to get creative to secure cell service across the border.

    April 16, 2014

  • Pirates 0416 Dominant Cueto drops Pirates in matinee

    That playoff loss in Pittsburgh last year? Johnny Cueto never thought about it much. So getting a chance to shut out the Pirates in a rematch wasn’t any more special.

    April 16, 2014 1 Photo

  • Penguins 0416 Penguins rally to wear out Jackets

    Brandon Sutter scored on a wrist shot from the left circle 8:18 into the third period, helping the Pittsburgh Penguins rally for a 4-3 victory over the Columbus Blue Jackets in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference quarterfinals on Wednesday night.
    Beau Bennett and Matt Niskanen scored power-play goals 45 seconds apart in the second period, erasing Pittsburgh’s two-goal deficit.

    April 16, 2014 1 Photo

  • Shelley and McElligot Series serves as reunion for former Chiefs personnel

    Not so long ago, Bob McElligott, like most Western Pennsylvania hockey fans, would savor a long Pittsburgh Penguins playoff run.
    The Somerset native followed the Pens’ Stanley Cup-winning teams in 1991 and 1992.

    April 15, 2014 1 Photo

  • Malkin nearing return

    The Columbus Blue Jackets are the closest NHL team to the Pittsburgh Penguins, at least geographically. The two franchises are separated by 185 miles of highway.

    April 15, 2014

  • Reds swing way past Pirates

    Mike Leake doubled and hit a two-run homer Tuesday night, ending Gerrit Cole's winning streak and leading the Cincinnati Reds to a 7-5 victory over the Pittsburgh Pirates that completed two days full of homers and delays.
    First, the NL Central rivals completed a game that was suspended in the sixth inning because of rain the previous night.

    April 15, 2014

  • Pitt ends its spring practices

    No tailgating.
    No trip to a local high school.

    April 15, 2014

  • Pirates Game 1 0415 Pirates edge out Reds in suspended game

    After all those home runs and an overnight delay, it was settled by a single.
    Andrew McCutchen doubled and came around on Russell Martin’s single in the seventh inning on Tuesday, giving the Pittsburgh Pirates an 8-7 victory over the Cincinnati Reds in the completion of a game that spanned two days and 10 home runs.

    April 15, 2014 1 Photo

  • track_B1 WestPAC relays go to Windber boys, Berlin girls

    Rain showers and dropping temperatures put a damper on Monday’s WestPAC Relays at Berlin Brothersvalley High School.
    For the Berlin girls and the boys from Windber, however, discomfort was not much of a factor.
    The Mountaineers won their third straight relay title while the Ramblers reclaimed the title from defending champ Shade.

    April 14, 2014 2 Photos

AP Sports Video

Should the NFL get rid of the extra-point attempt after a touchdown?

     View Results
Order Photos

Photo Slideshow