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Pirates notebook: Sanchez makes pitch to stick in rotation

| Thursday, March 21, 2013, 7:39 p.m.
Christopher Horner
Pirates pitcher Kyle McPherson has had a rough spring as he bids to win a spot in the starting rotation. Christopher Horner | Tribune-Review

SARASOTA, Fla. — By dominating the Baltimore Orioles on Thursday, left-hander Jonathan Sanchez might have pitched his way onto the Opening Day roster — and perhaps even the starting rotation.

“I just go out there and throw the ball. I don't make those decisions,” said Sanchez, who can opt out of his contract if he's not assured of a spot on the active roster by Monday. “It's hard to be waiting, waiting. I want to be here. If they need me here, I'm happy to be here. If not ...”

Sanchez tossed five scoreless innings, allowed two singles, walked one and struck out four. It was his longest and most effective outing this spring. It came just as the derby for the No. 5 spot in the rotation appeared to become wide open again.

Other than one bad outing Feb. 28 against Boston, Sanchez has been effective. He tweaked his delivery early in camp but junked the changes after the Red Sox game.

Earlier this week, there were indications Kyle McPherson was the leader for the job. But the right-hander has been knocked around in three of his past four starts, including a nine-run wipeout Wednesday against the Atlanta Braves.

Jeff Locke is still in the mix. In five games, the left-hander has a 3.12 ERA and a 1.27 WHIP.

Newcomer Jeanmar Gomez might be getting a closer look. The righty has pitched in four games (one start) and has a 9.00 ERA and 1.89 WHIP.

Gomez, who was acquired in an offseason trade, will start Friday against the Tampa Bay Rays. The Pirates will not use a designated hitter — something manager Clint Hurdle has done over the past couple of weeks when legit starter candidates have pitched.

The early lineups and rosters for the Rays game are posted in the clubhouse but do not list relief pitchers for the Pirates. That could be a sign some of the guys in camp Friday morning will be in the minors by the afternoon. The Pirates have 40 players in camp.

• The lineup against the Rays includes several position players who are on the bubble: Ivan De Jesus Jr., Josh Harrison, Brad Hawpe, Brandon Inge, Alex Presley and Felix Pie. For some of them, it could be a “one last look” game before rosters are reduced, perhaps as soon as Saturday. Infielder John McDonald, acquired Wednesday in a trade, arrived Thursday night and will be in camp Friday.

• McDonald and catcher Michael McKenry are locks for bench jobs. “We've got one more infielder who we'll (determine) in spring training,” GM Neal Huntington said. “The other two spots, it might be two outfielders, or it might be one infielder and one outfielder. Time will tell as it plays out.”

• Gaby Sanchez was scratched from the lineup Thursday due to what the Pirates described only as “an allergic reaction.” He was replaced as designated hitter by Hawpe.

• Before pregame workouts Thursday, all the Pirates were wearing T-shirts, courtesy of A.J. Burnett. The shirts had “Preparation for Domination” on the front and Burnett's uniform No. 34 on the back.

• LHP Wandy Rodriguez threw 5 13 innings Thursday in a minor league game. He gave up one run on three hits, walked three and struck out two.

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