Ford, Veal step up


BRADENTON, Fla. — Shelby Ford and Donnie Veal, two players not expected to play prominent roles with the Pirates this season, stepped up Wednesday in the 8-2 rout of the Phillies.

Ford smacked a three-run, pinch-hit homer. A third-round draft pick in 2006, Ford opened enough eyes last season to earn a non-roster invite to spring training. He’ll probably start the year with Double-A Altoona.

Veal tossed a scoreless inning to notch the victory. The Pirates plucked the lefty from the Cubs in the Rule 5 draft. If he sticks with the team, Veal will work out of the bullpen, thought his future is likely as a starter.

• Pedro Alvarez’s first at-bat was not memorable. In the seventh inning, facing lefty Jake Woods, Alvarez struck out on a half-swing on a pitch in the dirt. How bad was the pitch? It rolled away from catcher Lou Marson for a wild pitch.

• Manager John Russell praised the solid (albeit brief) outing by Chris Bootcheck, who tossed a 1-2-3 first inning. Bootcheck made good use of his changeup, a pitch management has stressed since last year.

“I think it’s key pitch for a majority of our pitchers,” Russell said. “It’s been a big emphasis with Joe (Kerrigan, pitching coach) since spring training starter. I was happy to see that (Jesse) Chavez, after getting three jam shots, started going to his changeup.”

• Chavez gave up a run in the ninth inning on consecutive singles by Jeremy Slayden, Greg Dobbs and John Mayberry. Chavez got out of the jam by striking out Andy Tracy and Marcus Giles and getting Anthony Hewitt to hit a comebacker to the mound.

• This morning, Phil Dumatrait (shoulder) threw another side session: 36 pitches, a mix of fastballs, curves and changes. Dumatrait will throw again Saturday in the bullpen, then might be ready to step up his throwing program.

• Position players who will not make the two-hour bus ride to Fort Myers tomorrow for the Red Sox game: Ryan Doumit, Adam LaRoche, Luis Cruz, Freddy Sanchez, Jack Wilson, Ramon Vazquez, Nate McLouth and Miguel Perez.

• Ian Snell, Ross Ohlendorf, Jimmy Barthmaier, Denny Bautista and Sean Burnett are slated to pitch against Boston.

• Catcher Robinzon Diaz replaced Doumit midway through today’s game and went 1 for 2 with a run scored. Jason Jaramillo will be behind the plate against the Red Sox.

• Dept. of Corrections: I missed a name last night when scanning for Pirates on the list of WBC players. Gift Ngoepe will play for South Africa, meaning the Pirates have nine players on the WBC rosters. Also, coach Luis Dorante will be the bullpen coach for Venezuela.

• I was standing outside the clubhouse at McKechnie Field this morning, talking on my phone, when Craig Monroe walked past. Monroe stopped, tapped me on the shoulder and, with a quizzical look, pointed at my forehead.

I knew what he was getting at, and explained it’s Ash Wednesday. “Oh,” Monroe said, with an honest smile. “Sorry, didn’t know. Just trying to help.”