The Times West Virginian

March 25, 2014

Pirates trounce Jays, 22-5


Associated Press

BRADENTON, Fla. — Pitcher Wandy Rodriguez contributed a two-run homer and RBI single as the Pittsburgh Pirates got 29 hits Tuesday and routed the Toronto Blue Jays, 22-5.

Starling Marte and Jose Tabata each homered and drove in four runs. Marte got five hits and Tabata had four. The Pirates finished with nine extra-base hits.

In his first at-bat of the spring, Rodriguez hit a full-count fastball from J.A. Happ into the Pirates’ bullpen in right field.

“It’s a 3-2 count and I knew the fastball was coming,” Rodriguez said with a laugh. “I made good contract and the wind helped me, too. I don’t have a lot of power.”

Rodriguez added his single in an eight-run fourth inning.

Rodriguez made his final start of spring training, working 4 2-3 innings and allowing three runs on six hits and four walks.

As the No. 3 starter in the rotation, Rodriguez is scheduled to make his season debut April 4 against the St. Louis Cardinals at PNC Park. Last year, he made only 12 starts due to chronic forearm pain and went 6-4 with a 3.59 ERA. He will be a free agent after this season.

“I feel very happy because when I started spring training, I was thinking a lot about my arm,” Rodriguez said. “Every time I throw, I feel good.”

TRAINER’S ROOM

Left-hander Francisco Liriano (groin) will throw off a mound Wednesday in a simulated game. If the injury has not improved and he must start the season on the disabled list, right-hander Brandon Cumpton is a possible replacement. Cumpton replaced Edinson Volquez as the scheduled starter Wednesday against Minnesota. Volquez instead will throw two or three innings in a simulated game.

POSITION BATTLES

First baseman Andrew Lambo was optioned to Triple-A Indianapolis, which means non-roster invitee Travis Ishikawa likely will begin the season as the Pirates’ backup first baseman.

“I looked at other situations last winter,” Ishikawa said. “The thought of playing time, good chance of making the club, was definitely more positive here than other places.”

Lambo, who was converted this spring from an outfielder to first baseman, hit .095 with a .269 on-base plus slugging percentage in 17 games. Ishikawa, a natural first baseman, is batting .333.

“Andrew exceeded expectations defensively,” general manager Neal Huntington said. “Offensively, the results weren’t there. He faced a lot of fastball-count offspeed pitches. In our mind, the right thing to do to get him back on track was to have him start the season in Indianapolis.”

ROSTER MOVES

Outfielder Jaff Decker and reliever Jared Hughes were optioned to Triple-A Indianapolis. Pitchers Adam Wilk, Jay Jackson, Zack Thornton and Daniel Schlereth; outfielder Chris Dickerson; catcher Omir Santos; and infielders Robert Andino and Michael Martinez were reassigned to minor league camp.

The Pirates acquired right-hander Vance Worley from the Twins for cash considerations and assigned him to minor league camp. The 26-year-old Worley made his big league debut in 2010 with the Philadelphia Phillies. Last season, he went 1-5 with a 7.10 ERA in 10 starts with the Twins.