BRADENTON, Fla. — Catcher Tony Sanchez went 2 for 2 today throwing out runners trying to steal second base. He nabbed Kevin Frandsen in the eighth inning and Tyson Gillies in the ninth. Although the throws escaped the attention of the big part of the sellout crowd that bolted for the gates late in the game, they did not go unnoticed by manager Clint Hurdle.
“To me, (what was worth) the price of admission today (were) the two throws by Tony Sanchez,” Hurdle said. “You’re not going to see many catchers unload quicker and more accurate than that, with that kind of velocity. They were both 1.85 (seconds) release time. He’s had a better, more comfortable spring. He’s receiving the ball well. He gets down to his knees to block (a ball) as quick as anyone I’ve ever had. He’s fun to watch. He found his comfort zone today.”
»»» Starling Marte’s batting average “slumped” to .563 after he went 0 for 2 today. So much for feasting on fastballs. Marte is being fed a lot more spinners and offspeed junk than he was at the start of spring training. “Word gets around,” Hurdle said.
»»» Righty Charlie Morton put a pair of runners on base in each of the two innings he pitched, yet did not allow a run. “I got in some situations I didn’t want to be in, which I think is a good thing,” Morton said. “I was able to get out of them. That’s the kind of thing I like to have happen, especially in the first few (spring games). Now I can start zeroing in on what I want to work on and things that I did well, things that I didn’t do well and all that good stuff. I’ve been asked, ‘What’s working for you? What feels good?’ I’m just like, ‘I don’t know.’ I can’t tell you till I get in a situation like that.”
»»» Including the two frames today by Morton, Pirates starting pitchers have strung together 10 scoreless innings over the past four games. They’ve yielded just one earned run in their past 19 2/3 innings.
»»» Phillies starter Vance Worley was unhittable. He racked up eight strikeouts in four innings and none of the four batters who made contact hit the ball out of the infield. “It’s too early to strike out a bunch of guys,” Worley said. “I’d rather get contact, because that helps you get deeper into games. Today, I happened to get a lot of swings and misses and some takes in there, too. If they’re going to give them to me, I’ll take them.”
»»» Catcher Michael McKenry got six RBI — including a three-run triple and a two-run homer — in the 8-2 scrimmage win against the Netherlands. “It was a great day,” McKenry said. “But more importantly, (pitchers Jeff) Karstens and (Daniel) McCutchen were really good. We played really good baseball today.” Karstens tossed four scoreless innings, allowed give hits and struck out four. McCutchen gave up a hit and a run in two innings’ work. However, because it wasn’t a Grapefruit League game, none of that counts toward the official spring training stats.
»»» Kevin Goldstein at Baseball Prospectus ranked the Pirates’ farm system No. 8 overall this year. He likes all the high-end pitching talent, but said the system still lacks overall depth. His top three are the Padres, Blue Jays and Cardinals.