Pirates A.M. — Crunch time for pitchers


GlasnowBallBy Rob Biertempfel

BRADENTON, Fla. — After yesterday’s game, manager Clint Hurdle was asked what factors will be separators down the stretch in the battle for the final open spot in the starting rotation. He gave a laundry list: “Pitch execution. Ability to throw breaking balls and secondary stuff behind in the count for strikes. Pitch efficiency. Number of hitters retired on three pitches or (fewer). There are about a handful of things.”

Yesterday, Drew Hutchison threw a great first inning, followed by two rough ones. His other outings were solid and I believe he remains the frontrunner for the No. 5 starter’s job. Why? Well, off the top of my head, I can think of 2.3 million reasons — one for every dollar he’ll make this season. That’s a lot to pay a Triple-A pitcher (at least, it is for the Pirates).

Two other candidates — Tyler Glasnow and Steven Brault — are slated to work today against the Phillies an hour up the road in Clearwater. Of the two, I think Brault has the better chance.

UPDATE 10:51 a.m. — I spoke this morning with one of the decision-makers who told me, “I wish one of them would just step up and grab it.” Each pitcher has two starts left in spring training to do just that. If it comes down to either Brault or Hutchison, the loser might end up in the bullpen instead of back at Indy.

>>> UPDATE 9:02 a.m. –  Hurdle has left camp to attend a friend’s funeral (Hurdle’s second departure this spring). Bench coach Tom Prince will manage the team today.

>>> Andrew McCutchen was ejected from last night’s WBC game vs. Puerto Rico for arguing a call third strike. Earlier this spring, McCutchen grumbled in the Pirates clubhouse after being rung up on questionable calls by the same umpire in back-to-back games. Last year, he was ejected for the first time in his career, also for disputing a called strike. Team USA manager Jim Leyland replaced Cutch with … Giancarlo Stanton. Nice bench, skipper.

Looks like McCutchen had a point:

>>> You want links? I’ve got links:

David Freese thrived despite a shortened spring training. Will Jung Ho Kang be able to do the same?

Orioles 8, Pirates 6. Felipe Rivero tosses up two more scoreless innings.

Notebook … In which Hutchinson throws a clunker, Mike Tomlin scouts Josh Bell, and the Pirates make a small round of cuts.

>>> Here’s a video snippet of D-Hutch’s postgame chat with the media. That’s George Von Benko‘s shiny dome in the background.

>>> Saturday’s game: Pirates at Phillies, 1:05 p.m., Spectrum Field, Clearwater. Webcast: pirates.com

Pirates: Adam Frazier 4, Phil Gosselin 6, Josh Bell 3, John Jaso 9, Jose Osuna 7, Elias Diaz 2, Eric Wood 5, Eury Perez 8, RHP Tyler Glasnow 1. Also pitching for Pirates: LH Steven Brault, RH Pat Light

Phillies: Cesar Hernandez 4, Freddy Galvis 6, Howie Kendrick 7, Michael Saunders 9, Maikel Franco 5, Daniel Nava 3, Ryan Hanigan 2, Roman Quinn 8, RHP Jeremy Hellickson. Also pitching for Phillies: Joaquin Benoit, Jeanmar Gomez, Joely Rodriguez.

>>> Sunday’s game: Blue Jays at Pirates, 1:05 p.m., LECOM Park, Bradenton. Webcast: pirates.com

Blue Jays: Lineup TBA. RHP Mike Bolsinger. Also pitching for Blue Jays: RH Casey Lawrence, RH Lucas Harrell, RH Dominic Leone, RH Bo Schultz

Pirates: Lineup TBA.. RHP Gerrit Cole. Also pitching for Pirates: RH Jared Hughes, LH Antonio Bastardo, LH Tony Watson, RH Daniel Hudson.

>>> Monday’s game: Pirates at Rays, 1:05 p.m., Charlotte Sports Park, Port Charlotte. Webcast: pirates.com Pirates: TBA. Also pitching for Pirates: TBA. Rays: Lineup TBA. RHP Jake Odorizzi. Also pitching for Rays: RH Shawn Tolleson, RH David Carpenter, RH Andrew Kittredge

>>> Tuesday’s game: Rays at Pirates, 1:05 p.m., LECOM Park, Bradenton. TV: Root. Radio: 93.7 FM. Rays: Lineup TBA. Also pitching for Rays: TBA. Pirates: TBA. Also pitching for Pirates: TBA

>>> Wednesday: Off day.

Rob Biertempfel is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at rbiertempfel@tribweb.com or via Twitter @BiertempfelTrib.