Monday, March 23, 2009

What A Difference A Day Makes...

* Zach Duke went out and spun five more solid innings today, giving up no runs on two hits, two walks, and four strikeouts to the Rays in a 4-1 win. The Zachster yielded just three fly ball outs in that span, and his ERA is 1.86 so far this spring.

Eric Hinske and Jack Splat had a pair of knocks apiece, and Andrew McCutchen drew three walks. Jason Jaramillo threw out two of three guys trying to steal off him.

Duke has done what he had to this spring, but we're not so sure about yesterday's losing pitcher, Ian Snell.

Snell got in a handful of exhibition innings before he joined up with his adopted homeland of Puerto Rico for the WBC. He's back three weeks later, with just two starts under his belt, and it showed against the Reds on Sunday.

Snell lasted 4-1/3 innings against Cincy, and was on the hook for six runs on nine hits, four for extra bases, including a long ball surrendered to Jonny Gomes. He walked a couple more, and left with a blister on his foot. His ERA is 8.53.

Given last season, it would have been nice to see him loaf around camp this spring and try to soak up some of what Joe Kerrigan is splashing around. Six or seven weeks of training with the squad would have done more for him than being a spot starter during the WBC.

It's not time to hit the panic button yet, but there are only a couple of weeks left, and given the state of the Pirate rotation, Pittsburgh needs Snell to step up.

Tricia Lafferty of the Tribune Review catches up with the righty on his return to Bradenton. John Perrotto of the Pirates Report gets Snell to open up on the difference between the Pirate City crowd and the flag-waving followers of the World Classic.

The Pirates travel to Disney's Wide World of Sports complex in Lake Buena Vista for a 6:05 p.m. game against the Braves tomorrow night. Ross Ohlendorf will start for Pittsburgh, and he could use a good outing to get back in the pitching race.

* Jen Langosch of has a piece on Jason Davis and the late charge he's making to stick with the Bucs when they break camp.

* Chuck Finder of the Post Gazette covers the travails of Jack Wilson as he works on a new batting style in his old age.

* John Grabow is expected back in camp tonight or tomorrow. With his return, the Bucs will have everyone but the banged-up Andy Phillips and Phil Dumatrait available for duty. Evan Meek is slated to miss a week, too, with a sore shoulder.

* Perrotto, Langosch, and Finder all talk about the never ending search to upgrade the Pirate pitching.

* What does a spring record mean? Jim Ingraham of the Cleveland News-Herald writes:
At the start of play Saturday, the Astros' spring record was 2-16. That's a winning percentage of .111 and puts them on a pace to make some history.

The worst spring training winning percentage in the last 25 years is by the 1985 Pirates, who were 6-18 (.250), en route to a regular-season record of 57-104.

The second-worst spring record in the last 25 years was the 7-20 (.259) mark by the 1984 Cubs, who then went on to win a division title with a regular-season record of 93-69.
Wonder which team Houston will imitate?

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