BRADENTON, Fla. — As inglorious moments in spring training history go, they don’t get much lower than the Pirates’ 6-4 loss last year against Manatee County Community College.
It was the Pirates’ first loss in 11 games against the Bradenton-based junior college. Keep in mind, though, it was a split-squad game — the Pirates fielded a squad of minor leaguers, many of them second-tier guys.
Neil Walker and Jose Tabata each had a hit. Steve Pearce homered. It was not a shining moment for Andrew McCutchen, who went 0 for 2 and grounded into a double play. Brian Bixler (remember him?) also drew an 0-fer.
Virgil Vasquez started and gave up three runs. Dave Davidson, who has since departed the organization, gave up the two game-winning runs in the sixth inning.
“I don’t remember anything about that game,” Vasquez said. “It was a year ago. But I can tell you we didn’t take them lightly. You can’t go into a game thinking it’s going to be easy. If you do, you’re going to be caught off guard. The jersey on someone’s back doesn’t matter.”
I bring up these painful memories only because the “rivalry” is renewed Tuesday, when the Pirates play the newly renamed State College of Florida (nee MCCC) at 12:05 p.m. at McKechnie Field.
The pitching assignments for the coming week are shaping up like this …
Tuesday vs. SCF: Bryan Morris, Donnie Veal, Ron Uviedo, Justin Thomas, Ramon Aguero, Jeff Sues and Anthony Claggett each will pitch one inning for the Pirates. Does anyone care who’s pitching for the college lads? Didn’t think so. There’s a very good chance this game will be rained out.
Wednesday at the Yanks: Paul Maholm will get the nod on opening day of the Grapefruit League and will toss one inning. Ross Ohlendorf also is slated to throw one inning. Vasquez, D.J. Carrasco, Chris Jakubauskas and Brian Bass also are scheduled. Chad Gaudin, Sergio Mitre and Alfredo Aceves will pitch for NY. The game will be broadcast by MLB Network.
Thursday at the Braves: Charlie Morton (two innings/45 pitches max), Brian Burress (2/45) and Brad Lincoln (one inning). It’s interesting that Burress is getting a starter’s-type workload in this first game.
Friday at the O’s: Zach Duke (2/45), Daniel McCutchen (2/45) and Vasquez (one inning) will pitch for the Pirates.
Saturday vs. the Phils: Kevin Hart (2/45) and D.J. Carrasco (2/40) for the Pirates. Joe Blanton will start for Philly.