PITTSBURGH (93-7 The FAN) — The Pirates first rainout of the Spring, the game Saturday with the Twins was cancelled as storms rolled through Bradenton. Manager Clint Hurdle said he will have today’s starter Jonathan Niese throw bullpen to simulate the innings and work.
Pirates will face the Blue Jays tomorrow and start A.J Schugel against Toronto and Ryan Vogelsong in a Sunday morning, minor-league game.
“We always pick one of the last two outings to take one of our starting rotation guys, when we are ramping up the number of pitches, so we can get him in a controlled environment,” Hurdle said. “We are trying to push them to 75 and eventually 100 pitches.”
Jordy Mercer was scheduled to lead off the game Saturday against the Twins, saying he did it once or twice last year. Mercer is normally the number eight hitter.
“That’s what Spring Training is all about, you can add and subtract and do a bunch of different things and go a bunch of different ways and see how it works out,” Mercer said.
The veteran shortstop did say he enjoys the switch, “leadoff definitely changes your mindset because you have all of the big boppers behind you.”
After just 18 plate appearances before Friday’s game in Clearwater, Matt Joyce had just three singles. Getting a rare start, the free agent outfielder homered and doubled off the Phillies, driving in his first three runs of the Grapefruit League season.
“Anytime you can go out and square a few balls up and have some good at bats and see the ball well and drive the ball, knock a couple of runs in, it’s a good day,” Joyce said. “It’s great to have some success at the plate and show a little of what you can do and what you are capable of.”
“It’s always a good day when a guy like Joyce, who’s gone through adversity, and he continues to battle,” Hurdle said. “He had different opportunities to go out and put good swings on balls and drive balls to the big part of the field. That’s always a good feeling.”