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Pirates' Corey Dickerson: Strong start continues
Dickerson went 2-for-4 with a homer Saturday, raising his spring batting average to .424.
The soon-to-be free agent is playing for his next contract. Dickerson hit .300 and won his first Gold Glove in 2018. He's expected to bat in the middle of the order and will likely look to regain his home run swing -- he hit 27 homers for Tampa Bay in 2017 but just 13 last year. The 29-year-old will have to stay healthy, however -- he's never played more than 124 games in the outfield in five prior seasons.... See More ... See Less
Pirates' Oneil Cruz: Provides fireworks against Phillies
Cruz went 1-for-3 with a tape-measure homer off Zach Eflin in Saturday's win over Philadelphia.
The 20-year-old, who also turned a pair of nifty double plays Saturday, slashed .286/.343/.488 with 14 homers and 11 stolen bases for Low-A Bradenton in 2018. He's one of Pittsburgh's top prospects but likely remains a long ways away from making his potential major-league debut. General manager Neal Huntington said during Saturday's game that the organization plans on keeping the 6-foot-6 Dominican at shortstop despite his height, at least for the time being. Given Cruz's blend of speed and power, there's a good chance he moves up fantasy rankings quickly. He's expected to play for High-A Bradenton in 2019.... See More ... See Less
Pirates' Jameson Taillon: Mediocre against Red Sox
Taillon allowed four earned runs on eight hits in four innings Saturday. He struck out three batters without issuing a walk.
Poor defense contributed to his lackluster final spring tuneup, but he hasn't been particularly sharp. The righty pitched in three simulated games before making his Grapefruit League debut. Since then, Taillon has thrown in three spring contests, compiling a 4.85 ERA in 13 innings. On the positive side, he's crafted an 11:0 K:BB. He's set to start Thursday on Opening Day against the Reds in Cincinnati... See More ... See Less
Pirates' Starling Marte: Targeting Monday or Tuesday
Manager Clint Hurdle expects Marte (back) to play in one of two exhibition games against Houston on Monday or Tuesday, DK Pittsburgh Sports reports.
Sitting the center fielder gives him a chance to rest nagging injuries prior to the start of regular season play. He also missed time early in camp with a thumb injury. Marte has looked good in Grapefruit League action, hitting .269 with three home runs and four stolen bases.... See More ... See Less
Pirates' Jordan Lyles: Remains leader for No. 5 spot
General manager Neal Huntington said prior to Saturday's Grapefruit League game against the Orioles that Lyles (side) still has the "inside track" on the final opening in Pittsburgh's rotation, Adam Berry of MLB.com reports.
Lyles likely strengthened his hold on the No. 5 gig by turning in a solid, if unspectacular showing Saturday, scattering three runs on seven hits over five innings while walking none and striking out five. Assuming Lyles reports no renewed pain in his side coming out of the outing, he should enter the season with no pitch-count limitations after working deep into Saturday's start. One of Steven Brault and Nick Kingham, the other competitors for the final rotation spot, will likely handle a long-relief role if Lyles' health isn't a concern.... See More ... See Less
Pirates' Melky Cabrera: Will travel north with team
Cabrera will break camp on the team's Opening Day roster, John Perrotto of DK Pittsburgh Sports reports.
He's hit .310 in 42 spring at-bats and is expected to see time in the outfield, especially with starting right fielder Gregory Polanco (shoulder) not expected back until May. Once Polanco returns, Cabrera's playing time could be cut, especially with fellow backup Lonnie Chisenhall in the mix. As a result, Cabrera's greatest fantasy value might come in the month of April.... See More ... See Less
Pirates' Francisco Liriano: Will pitch in big leagues
Despite an inconsistent spring, Liriano will make the team's Opening Day roster, John Perrotto of DK Pittsburgh Sports reports.
With nine walks in 9.2 Grapefruit League innings, Liriano has struggled with his control. Even so, the Pirates will give the 35-year-old a chance to pitch out of the bullpen. Liriano has compiled a 5.03 ERA in 230.2 innings since 2017 and isn't expected to pitch in high leverage situations.... See More ... See Less
Pirates' Jacob Stallings: Looks to be over neck issue
Stallings (neck) is listed as an available bench option for Saturday's split-squad Grapefruit League game against the Phillies, Rob Biertempfel of The Athletic reports.
Jason Delay is also on hand as another reserve backstop, but the fact that Stallings will dress for the exhibition suggests the stiff neck that he first experienced Wednesday is no longer much of a concern. With Elias Diaz (illness) slated to open the season on the injured list, Stallings is poised to break camp as the top backup to No. 1 catcher Francisco Cervelli.... See More ... See Less
Pirates' Starling Marte: Not playing Saturday
Marte (back) isn't listed in the lineup or as an available bench option for either of the Pirates' split-squad games Saturday against the Red Sox and Phillies, Rob Biertempfel of The Athletic reports.
Marte has been idle since Thursday with lower-back tightness, an injury the Pirates view as a day-to-day concern. Though the organization remains optimistic that Marte will be ready to go for the March 28 season opener in Cincinnati, he may need to return to action in one of the Pirates' final three spring contests to ensure his availability.... See More ... See Less
Pirates' Jung Ho Kang: Moves to middle infield Friday
Kang made his Grapefruit League debut at shortstop Friday, going 2-for-3 with a double, DK Pittsburgh Sports reports.
He handled three chances without error, though he failed to catch a first-inning line drive that was ruled a single. While Kang asked prior to spring training to play exclusively at third base, he has since softened his stance. "It had been a long time," Kang said. "Every inning, I felt more comfortable and natural." Given Kang's fine physical conditioning and starting shortstop Erik Gonzalez's lack of experience, it's not out of the question that Kang could start at shortstop with Colin Moran getting the nod at third base, on occasion.... See More ... See Less
Pirates' Francisco Liriano: Day of reckoning coming
The Pirates are expected to inform Liriano whether he has made the Opening Day roster Saturday, DK Pittsburgh Sports reports.
He's pitched progressively worse throughout the spring, allowing five runs with an 8:9 K:BB in 9.1innings. If Liriano doesn't make the team, the Pirates will likely release him because they would have to pay him a $100,000 bonus if they send him to Triple-A. Rule 5 pick Nick Burdi has outpitched Liriano and may take the final bullpen spot.... See More ... See Less
Pirates' Jonah Davis: Goes deep in debut
Davis went 2-for-4 with a pair of home runs in his Grapefruit League debut Thursday.
A late replacement in center field for Starling Marte, the 21-year-old is coming off an exciting 2018 pro debut. Davis slashed .306/.398/.612 in 206 at-bats for Bristol of the Appalachian League, including 12 homers and six stolen bases. A 15th-round pick, Davis will likely play for Low-A West Virginia later this summer. While he's a long way away from potentially making the majors, his power makes him one to watch.... See More ... See Less
Pirates' Jordan Lyles: Set to start Saturday
Lyles (side) is scheduled to start Saturday's split-squad game against the Phillies, John Perrotto of DKPittsburghSports.com reports.
Lyles threw a four-inning, 60-pitch simulated game Monday, clearing the way for his return to Grapefruit League action. The 28-year-old is the leading candidate to begin the season as the Pirates' fifth starter, assuming all goes well Saturday.... See More ... See Less
Pirates' Starling Marte: Remains out Friday
Marte (back) is not in the lineup for Friday's spring game against the Rays, John Perrotto of DKPittsburghSports.com reports.
Marte was scratched from Thursday's lineup due to a tight lower back, so it's not overly surprising to see him out of the lineup the following day. The 30-year-old is still considered day-to-day, but it's worth keeping a close eye on his status with Opening Day less than a week away.... See More ... See Less
Pirates' Jung Ho Kang: Walkoff grand slam
Kang went 2-for-4 with a walkoff grand slam, a double and a strikeout Thursday against the Orioles.
Kang continued his power surge this spring, bashing his sixth home run in 36 at-bats. Recently named the starting third baseman for the Pirates, Kang has also posted an alarming strikeout rate, whiffing 17 times in his exhibition sample.... See More ... See Less
Pirates' Clay Holmes: Shifting to bullpen
Holmes will transition to a multi-inning relief role in the minors, Rob Biertempfel of The Athletic reports.
The Pirates aren't closing the door on Holmes as a starter, though they'll focus on developing him in a relief role for the time being. The soon-to-be 26-year-old made seven appearances out of the Pirates' bullpen in 2018, posting a 5.56 ERA and 9:10 K:BB in 11.1 innings during those outings.... See More ... See Less
Pirates' Starling Marte: Removed from lineup
Marte was removed from Thursday's lineup because of a tight lower back.
The Pirates are calling Marte's removal from the lineup precautionary. The outfielder, who is currently being treated by the team's medical staff, should be considered day-to-day. Given how close it is to the start of the season, Marte's status will be worth monitoring in the coming days.... See More ... See Less
Pirates' Clay Holmes: Sent to Indianapolis
Holmes was optioned to Triple-A Indianapolis on Thursday.
Holmes stumbled to a 6.84 ERA in his 26.1-inning debut last season, walking more batters (23) than he struck out (21). He remains on the 40-man roster, so he may have a chance to improve upon those numbers at some point later in the season.... See More ... See Less
Pirates' Michael Feliz: Optioned to Triple-A
Feliz was optioned to Triple-A Indianapolis on Thursday.
Feliz struggled to a 5.66 ERA in 47.2 frames for the Pirates last season. He remains on the 40-man roster, so he'll be an option when injuries strike Pittsburgh's bullpen.... See More ... See Less
Pirates' Nick Burdi: Making good impression
Burdi threw a perfect inning against the Twins on Wednesday.
The Rule 5 pickup, who spent one month on Pittsburgh's roster last season, will need to stay with the team an additional two months or be offered back to Minnesota. "He's come in in a good spot. He's been competing. He's been making pitches," manager Clint Hurdle said. "The velocity's playing. The slider's come into play a little bit. He continues to give you things to think about." Burdi has posted a 1.93 ERA in 9.2 spring innings, including a 13:3 K:BB. As a result, there's a good chance he takes the last bullpen spot and pitches in middle relief to start 2019.... See More ... See Less