BRADENTON, Fla. — Ending last season on the disabled list with soreness behind his right shoulder blade convinced right-hander Ross Ohlendorf to get an earlier start on his offseason workouts.
“I was also more diligent in my throwing program,” Ohlendorf said. “I followed it more closely and took counting the number of pitches I threw more seriously than in the past.”
Ohlendorf was the last member of the rotation to get on the mound for a Grapefruit League game this spring. Today, he worked 1 2/3 innings in the 4-2 loss against the Twins. Ohlendorf gave up a run on two hits, walked one and struck out four.
“My arm has felt really good all spring but you don’t know how it’s going to feel at game speed until you go out and do it,” he said. “I was confident I’d feel fine, but it was nice to prove it to myself and I really don’t have to think about my shoulder anymore.”
Ohlendorf is not concerned that he reached his pitch count before getting through his scheduled two innings. Getting four strikeouts “probably spiked his pitch count more than anything else,” manager Clint Hurdle said.
“My arm felt really good and that’s the most important thing right now,” Ohlendorf said. “This is the best I’ve felt in spring training in a few years.”
»»» Minor leaguer Michael Dubee pitched in the second inning after Ohlendorf was removed. Dubee came in with a runner on first and one out, and struck out Jason Repko. “I’ve know the boy since he was this big because I played ball with his dad,” Hurdle said. Dubee is the son of Phillies pitching coach Rich Dubee, who pitched six years in the Royals farm system.
»»» Prospect Michael Crotta threw two innings, gave up two hits and got one strikeout. “I’ve heard about him — heavy sink with a big arm,” Hurdle said. “I’m glad he got out there for a second inning. The sink wasn’t the same second inning, but for him to pitch through that and not give up a run was good. He’s got the attention of some people.”
»»» The Pirates squandered a couple of chances with a runner on second and none out. “We’ve got work to do,” Hurdle said. “I’m seeing focus and intent; it gets down to execution. There’s not athletic chaos out there, which I’m pleased with. When things need to happen at the plate, when you’re trying to move runners and get bunts down, you don’t always perform. But the intent was there.”
“Athletic chaos” might be my favorite Hurdle phrase so far in spring training.
“We had a couple guys try to work the ball the other way with runners on second base. We tried to get a bunt down. Pitchers were behind in counts but got outs. Baserunning stayed aggressive. Things we need to do, we’re seeing. There’s not a lot of free-wheeling going on out there. When I was a kid, we had ‘free play Friday.’ We haven’t had any ‘free play Fridays’ so far.”