Bucs stick to plan for hot Marte
By Dejan Kovacevic
Published: Saturday, March 17, 2012
BRADENTON, Fla. -- No matter how well Starling Marte performs, he won't make the Pirates.
That point had to be emphasized anew Friday after Marte homered and singled off Philadelphia All-Star Cliff Lee in a 3-2 victory over the Phillies at McKechnie Field. Marte finished 2 for 4 to leave his spring totals at a .500 average, three home runs, four RBIs and two steals.
"We're not going to change our minds," manager Clint Hurdle said. "We want the total package when he arrives."
Management's plan is to have Marte, a 23-year-old elite outfield prospect, open the season in Class AAA -- his first time above the Class AA level -- mostly to improve on his selectivity at the plate. He led the Eastern League with a .332 average last season, with an on-base percentage of .370. The Pirates want to see more power -- he had 12 home runs and 50 RBIs in 536 at-bats -- and believe it's very much there.
Marte made clear he has no issue with knowing he's headed to Indianapolis.
"Everything is good," he said. "I'm feeling good about how I'm playing here, but the communication has been good. I know I can learn."
And does he feel he's ready for the majors?
"Yes, of course," he replied with a smile.
Marte's home run came on what all concerned acknowledged was a mistake pitch by Lee, easily clearing the left-field fence even with the wind blowing in.
"Right down the plate," Marte said. "Thank God I was able to get the barrel on it."
"It was left out there, but Marte's hitting well," Hurdle said. "He takes a fierce swing up there."
Tabata sticks in right
Jose Tabata will remain in right field, where he started 13 games late last season after Alex Presley effectively took over left field.
"Jose will do very well there," outfield instructor Luis Silverio said. "We'll have to work with him on the wall at PNC Park, but he has a good, accurate arm, and we're going to have a lot of speed out there."
Andrew McCutchen will be in center.
Correia's golden ERA
Kevin Correia, trying to reclaim his All-Star form of early 2011, kept his spring ERA unblemished with four scoreless innings. It wasn't the Phillies' best lineup, but Correia held them to one hit -- a book-rule double -- while striking out two, walking one and drawing eight groundouts.
"I'm feeling good out there, strong, putting the ball where I want for the most part," Correia said. "Feels a little better every time out."
Reliever Evan Meek pitched another scoreless inning, allowing one hit, and both he and Hurdle called it another quality step in his bid to regain top form following shoulder trouble last year.
"I'd say it's progress, a little more each time out," Hurdle said.
The Pirates and Minnesota Twins added a 10 a.m. B-game to their scheduled 1:05 p.m. game Sunday in Fort Myers. Brad Lincoln, coming off a strained calf, will start.Additional Information:
1:05 p.m. today, McKechnie Field, Bradenton, Fla.
Pirates pitcher: RHP Jeff Karstens
Rays pitcher: RHP James Shields
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