Pirates notebook: Wilson eyeing bullpen job
BRADENTON, Fla. — Next year, Justin Wilson might be in the mix for a spot for the Pirates' starting rotation. For now, the left-hander is making progress toward winning a bullpen job.
Wilson tossed three shutout innings in relief Saturday against the Minnesota Twins, lowering his Grapefruit League ERA to 0.90. Opponents are batting .222 against him.
“We're looking for a couple guys in the bullpen who can pitch multiple innings,” manager Clint Hurdle said. “He's got a history of having length.”
A fifth-round pick in 2008, Wilson has made 98 of his 112 outings in the minors as a starter. His curveball is sharp, his fastball can touch the mid-90s mph, and he also throws a cutter and a changeup. But control problems — he's averaged 4.5 walks per nine innings — indicate Wilson might have a better future as a reliever.
Wilson had more strikeouts (138) last season than anyone in the Pirates' farm system. He also was part of two no-hitters for Indy — combining with two relievers in late April, and tossing eight no-hit innings in a rain-shortened game in August.
With the Pirates, Wilson worked 42⁄3 innings in eight relief outings. He gave up 10 hits and three walks and struck out seven.
“Going up to Pittsburgh last year and seeing how it works is helping me this year to be more confident and more ready,” Wilson said. “Coming into camp, I had a better feeling for where I stand.”
Right-hander Phil Irwin worked 21⁄3 innings Sunday against the New York Yankees and gave up six runs on seven hits and two walks.
“I pitched behind a lot,” Irwin said. “Sometimes, you have to fail to figure out what you need to do to succeed. Obviously, this didn't go well, but there are still things I can take from this and learn from.”
Irwin probably will start the season in the rotation at Triple-A Indianapolis. His first four outings this spring went well — he worked eight innings, gave up five hits and got nine strikeouts — before struggling against the Yankees.
“It was a tough day for Phil,” Hurdle said. “But that's part of spring training. You pitch well, you get bigger looks and different opportunities. For whatever reason today, he was behind in the count and his fastball was up. Everything we know about Phil, we didn't see today.”
Jeff Locke pitched the fifth through the eighth innings and gave up two unearned runs. He did not allow a hit, walked one and struck out two.
Locke still is in the hunt for the No. 5 job in the rotation.
Back in action
Closer Jason Grilli is scheduled to pitch Monday against the Boston Red Sox. It will be Grilli's first outing for the Pirates since March 3. He pitched for Italy in the World Baseball Classic. “We still have plenty of time to get him the work he needs,” Hurdle said. “He doesn't need 20 innings in spring training. We still have a chance to get him close to 10.”
Lefty Wandy Rodriguez reached his pitch limit with the Dominican Republic in the WBC. Hurdle said Rodriguez flew back to Florida on Saturday, was given Sunday off and will be back in camp Monday.
Reliever Tony Watson (sore lat) threw 23 pitches in a minor league game without any issues. It was his first game action since Feb. 28.
Around the horn
The sellout crowd of 8,541 was the largest ever to see a game at McKechnie Field. ... To celebrate St. Patrick's Day, the Pirates wore green caps and bench coach Jeff Banister filled out the lineup card in green ink. ... The Yankees called up outfielder Exicardo Cayones from minor league camp for the game. Cayones was one of two prospects the Pirates traded to New York last spring for right-hander A.J. Burnett.
Rob Biertempfel is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach him at email@example.com or via Twitter @BiertempfelTrib.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Braves’ error, Sanchez’s sacrifice fly in 9th help Pirates snap long skid
- Pirates notebook: Morton hopes to return this season
- Pirates notebook: Hurdle weighs trio at 1st base
- Pirates’ McCutchen expects to play Tuesday; Alvarez to start at 1B
- CF McCutchen returns to lineup, but Braves blast fast-fading Pirates
- Wednesday’s scouting report: Braves at Pirates
- Sunday’s scouting report: Pirates at Nationals
- Pirates notebook: Axford set to provide more relief
- Friday’s scouting report: Pirates at Nationals
- Stats Corner: Locke’s second-half struggles continue
- Pirates notebook: Team claims Indians’ Axford off waivers