All eyes will be on RHP James McDonald as he tries to rebound from his post-All Star personal apocalypse. J-Mac told Bill Brink of the Post Gazette that "It's good to have stuff, but if you can pitch, that's way better." Took awhile for that epiphany to occur, but maybe the light has finally flipped on. Atlanta will start Julio Teheran.
Lineup: Starling Marte LF, Russell Martin C, Andrew McCutchen CF, Pedro Alvarez 3B, Neil Walker 2B, Gaby Sanchez 1B, Brandon Inge DH, Jose Tabata RF, Clint Barmes SS.
Interesting lineup, especially with Martin hitting from the two-hole and JT in the eight spot, almost a complete flip from what you'd expect. And Pedro is at cleanup instead of his usual #6 spot. El Toro is also the only lefty in Clint Hurdle's first LHP platoon batting order (which is odd, given that Teheran's a righty; maybe he wants to see what the boys can do against same-side pitching). Spring may be a slog for fans and media, but it's also time for Hurdle to play around with his options in a way he couldn't during the season.
Pitchers: James McDonald, Justin Wilson, Jonathan Sanchez, Jason Grilli, Jared Hughes, Tony Watson and Ryan Reid.
- J-Mac went 9-3/2.37 in his first 110 IP last year; his slash was 3-5/7.52 in his final 61 frames to finish 12-8/4.21. He only got the call once after September 14th, and that was in relief.
- Tom Singer in his blog Change For A Nickel writes that Russell Martin will forego his roster spot in the WBC. Singer cites both Martin's reluctance to begin the game grind behind the plate so early in the year and the Pirates wish that he stay in camp to work with the staff.
- Today will be the first game of the year for Cutch, Clint Barmes, Russell Martin and The Kid; they sat out the season-opening scrimmage and yesterday's spring lid lifter.
- In an oddity, Tom Singer of MLB.com noted that the Bucs play 32 spring games, and 28 are against AL teams.
- The Braves lost to the Mets yesterday 8-3. But former Buc Paul Maholm looked good, putting up two goose egg innings.