Energized Pirates ready for Saturday’s Grapefruit League opener
BRADENTON, Fla. — The Pittsburgh Pirates finished their final workout Friday at Pirate City on a positive note when right fielder Gregory Polanco perfectly executed a sliding drill on a padded mat.
It was a symbolic ending for both Polanco, who suffered a season-ending shoulder injury on an awkward slide last September, and the Pirates as they move to LECOM Park to start their Grapefruit League schedule.
Manager Clint Hurdle was happy with the energy with which the Pirates performed over their first two weeks at their minor league complex before moving to their stadium for the remainder of spring training.
“We checked off all the boxes intentionally that we had here on things to get done,” Hurdle said. “I think we were efficient with our time. I think we were intentional with our time, and I give the players all the credit for the energy and the focus to everything they did.”
Hurdle said left-hander Steven Brault, one of a handful of pitchers vying for the fifth spot in the rotation, will start the Grapefruit League opener against the Philadelphia Phillies on Saturday in Clearwater. Clay Holmes, Michael Feliz, Brandon Maurer, Aaron Slegers and Geoff Hartlieb also are slated to pitch for the Pirates.
The rest of the lineup won’t be announced until the day of the game, per MLB policy, but Hurdle said the Pirates plan to ease some of their starters into the lineup. Hurdle said third baseman Jung Ho Kang will play Sunday in the home opener against the Miami Marlins.
“We don’t have to have those representative rosters until March 1, but we always like to put a representative team on the field in spring training, even when you’re making road trips,” Hurdle said. “Fans like to see players, and they like to see players that they know. We always try to keep that in mind when we put the lineup together.”
Kevin Gorman is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Kevin by email at email@example.com or via Twitter .