PITTSBURGH (93-7 The FAN) – With all of the candidates likely getting one more start in Florida, Drew Hutchison struggled in his bid to be the Pirates fifth starter, giving up six runs on 10 hits in four and two-thirds innings as the Red Sox won 10-7 on Thursday.
Hutchison said he was a touch up in the zone, giving up five runs in the first inning on doubles by Mitch Moreland and Pablo Sandoval. Gregory Polanco misplayed the Moreland rope a bit.
“I thought I did a good job of coming back after that inning and really making good pitches,” Hutchison said. “I thought I did a good job of battling through it and really getting into a good rhythm and making good pitches (after the first).”
“Overall command, trying to get some angle, trying to change speeds effectively,” manager Clint Hurdle said of what he needs to see from Hutchison. “Balls were up early, it’s a good lineup, it’s a strong lineup. If you make mistakes up, it usually doesn’t end well.”
Hurdle said they are still mapping out plans with pitching coach Ray Searage and GM Neal Huntington about how they will work the last few games to get as many looks at the four candidates to fill the 5th spot in the rotation.
“Obviously, I would have liked to have pitched better in the last two outings, I think I finished strong today,” Hutchison said. “It is what it is, you just go out there and compete and do what you are capable of doing.”
Grand Return For Marte
After a strikeout and a fielders’ choice in his first two at bats, Starling Marte hit a two-out, grand slam to right center in the 5th in his first game back from the World Baseball Classic.
“I feel great,” Marte said through interpreter Mike Gonzalez about his homer. “Even though I’m not recognized as a power hitter, people do know that when I hit the ball, I hit it hard.”
Marte said he doesn’t believe his ankle will be an issue and believes he will be able to play throughout the season, especially with the therapy he’s going through.
Gregory Polanco returned as well, going 1 for 4 with a double and a run scored. Jared Hughes gave up three runs in a third of an inning, although manager Clint Hurdle said Hughes got 4 ground balls and a soft fly ball and pitched better today, with better sink.
Looks Like Kuhl At 4
Allowing 5 runs in 12 innings this Spring while striking out 10 and walking 3, added to 5-4 record with a 4.20 ERA during 14 starts last year, 24 year-old righty Chad Kuhl will be the fourth starter.
“Chad Kuhl came in with the inside track and he’s done nothing to take anything away from that,” GM Neal Huntington said. “We’re still working through who will be the final starter.”
And with that there is only one spot open in the rotation.
Osuna Or Later
Added to the 40-man roster this off-season, could first baseman/outfielder Jose Osuna be added to the Opening Day roster?
“He’s certainly put himself in a position to deserve that conversation,” Huntington said. “We’re working through the best and the right 25 man roster and he’s still in camp because he’s still in a legitimate competition for that.”
Osuna had another hit on Friday as his average dropped to .429 this Spring. Osuna also leads the Pirates in home runs and RBI.
“The way he’s swung the bat, it’s not a Spring Training performance where he’s mashed A ball pitching late in the game,” Huntington said. “He’s hit good stuff, he’s hit good velocity, he’s hit good breaking pitches, he’s hit good major league pitchers.”
“What he’s done this Spring has been very encouraging and a building upon what he did in the second half of last season in Triple A. We’ve liked the bat. We could have traded Jose Osuna probably a dozen times as he’s come through our system, but we like the bat so we held onto him. He seems to be on the verge of being able to help us at the Major League level, might be Opening Day, might be some point in the season.”