LAKELAND, Fla. — Starling Marte drew two bases on balls in yesterday’s game against the Twins. Think about that. Let it sink in a moment. A guy who’s never walked more than 33 times in any of his five seasons in the majors now has done it three times in his first plate appearances of spring training. Call him Mr. OBP.
“I’m just seeing the ball good,” Marte said. “I just want to calm down a little bit and swing at strikes. I’m working a lot at that, but I’m not thinking I need to take a lot of walks. I’m just waiting for the pitchers to throw me strikes.”
Manager Clint Hurdle says it’s a sign of Marte’s increasing maturity at the plate: “He’s growing. The experience factor is starting to play. He’s understanding the fight in the box and what (pitchers) are trying to do. They’re trying to get him out by not throwing strikes. The patience, the ability to read early and not feel like he has to jump the fastball. He can just hit the fastball. Two walks in a game is somewhat of an outlier for him, but it’s never not good when he gets two walks.”
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>>> Today’s game: Pirates at Tigers, 1:05 P.M., Publix Field at Joker Marchant Stadium, Lakeland, Fla. Webcast: pirates.com
Pirates (4-2): Adam Frazier 5, Josh Harrison 4, Andrew McCutchen 9, Francisco Cervelli 2, Jordy Mercer 6, Jose Osuna 3, Elias Diaz DH, Eury Perez 8, Barrett Barnes 7. LHP Steven Brault
Also pitching for Pirates: RH Trevor Williams, LH Tyler Webb, RH Tyler Eppler
Tigers (3-4): Ian Kinsler 4, Victor Martinez DH, Miguel Cabrera 3, J.D. Martinez 9, Justin Upton 7, Alex Avila 2, Mikie Mahtook 8, Omar Infante 5, Jose Iglesias 6. RHP Justin Verlander
Also pitching for Tigers: LH Chad Bell, LH Blaine Hardy, LH Kyle Ryan, LH Daniel Stumpf, RH Ruben Alaniz
>>> Friday’s game: Orioles (LHP Wade Miley) at Pirates (RHP Gerrit Cole), 1:05 p.m., LECOM Park, Bradenton. Radio: 93.7 FM
Also pitching for Pirates: RHP Tyler Glasnow, RH Drew Hutchison.
>>> Saturday’s game: Red Sox (LHP Brian Johnson) at Pirates (RHP Jameson Taillon), 1:05 p.m., LECOM Park, Bradenton. Webcast: pirates.com
Rob Biertempfel is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org or via Twitter @BiertempfelTrib.