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Marte enjoys taste of big leagues

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SARASOTA — Prospect Starling Marte is still a ways from the major leagues. but he got a taste of it this afternoon.

In the Pirates’ 5-2 loss against the Orioles, Marte played three innings in right field and made two putouts. At the plate, he went 1 for 2.

“Looked like he was having fun,” manager John Russell said. “You can see he’s got some tools.”

Marte, 21, was signed out of the Dominican Republic in 2007. Last season, he got on everyone’s radar by hitting .312 at Class A West Virginia. He ranked fifth among Pirates minor leaguers with 24 stolen bases.

“He got the opportunity, performed and now everybody’s raving about him,” farm director Kyle Stark said.

“I think I have a good future,” Marte said. “I hope I can be around for a long time. It was very exciting to be here today. I’ll take any chance I can to be here.”

Baseball America ranked Marte the Pirates’ sixth-best prospect.

— The reason Ramon Vazquez was a late scratch from the lineup, the Pirates say, was a sore shoulder/collarbone. Vazquez was nicked by a bad hop during Friday’s game. His status is day to day.

— The public address system at ratty, old Ed Smith blared “Thank God I’m a Country Boy” after the top of the seventh inning. The John Denver song has been a tradition in Baltimore since 1975. But about half of the crowd — remember, Sarasota was the Cincy Reds’ training site until this year — rebelled and tried to drown out the banjo twang by singing its own version of “Take Me Out to the Ballgame.”

— Daniel McCutchen will start and pitch four innings/65 pitches tomorrow against the Rays. He’ll be followed by Vinnie Chulk, Octavio Dotel, Chris Jakubauskas, Brian Bass and Brian Burres. The Rays will bring a split squad to Bradenton.

— Monday is the Pirates’ second and final off day of spring training. After that, four of their next five games will be played at McKechnie Field.

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