By Rob Biertempfel/Photo by Christopher Horner
BRADENTON, Fla. — You can look at Drew Hutchison’s linescores this spring and draw a bright, wide line of demarcation between the good and the bad. His first three outings: nine innings, six hits, two earned runs, three walks, nine strikeouts. His past three outings: 10 2/3 innings, 27 hits, 21 earned runs, six walks, nine strikeouts.
His first two outings came out of the bullpen — which is when, especially early in spring training, a pitcher faces backups and minor leaguers. Over the last two weeks of camp, starting position players tend stay in the games longer and are more in tune at the plate. “It’s (a different) level of competition,” manager Clint Hurdle said. “Sometimes, strength of lineup comes into play. However, he was throwing better strikes earlier (this spring) than they have been lately.”
“It’s extremely frustrating to have an opportunity and not perform to the level that you expect,” Hutchison said. “I thought I did a good job last time (against Boston) bouncing back and I did that again tonight. You don’t need to put yourself in a situation where you have to bounce back and make pitches to get out of an inning.”
UPDATE 11:44 A.M — Less than an hour ago, Hutchison was optioned to Triple-A Indianapolis. “We’ve seen some flashes of the guy we thought we were getting when we traded for him (in August), with the crispness of the fastball … the sharpness of the breaking ball and a very effective changeup,” GM Neal Huntington said. “Unfortunately, we’ve also seen too much of the fastball catching too much of the plate and pitches not being sharp.”
Glasnow is scheduled to pitch on Saturday against the Blue Jays in Montreal. Huntington said whichever pitcher is not chosen for the rotation job might open the season in the Pirates’ bullpen.
>>> Gregory Polanco, who continues to rest a sore left shoulder, has not played since Thursday, which was his only Grapefruit League appearance since returning from the WBC. The Pirates, as usual, have not said specifically what’s wrong with Polanco other than he is battling “discomfort” in his shoulder. Huntington cautioned that “injured” might be too strong a word to describe Polanco’s status: “He’s feeling better. We’ve still got some time there and we remain optimistic that things will come together. We’re just trying to be cautious and want to get guys out of the gate as healthy as possible. It’s been a long spring, there’s no question, but we’re still optimistic that he’ll be a go (for opening day).”
UPDATE 11:45 a.m. -- Polanco will NOT go with the team to Montreal due to what Huntington says is “a technical glitch” with his passport. For most of the players, applying for visas to enter Canada was a routine process. However, those who played in the World Baseball Classic are hampered by a compressed timeframe to finish the process. “It’s more challenging because of timing, because of paperwork and because of all of their passports being with them,” Huntington. “Gregory’s visa is fine — this is not a Jung Ho Kang situation — but there has been a technical glitch.” Huntington said the situation should be cleared up soon and will not affect Polanco’s ability to play in the three-game, regular-season series against the Blue Jays in August. Even before the passport problem, the Pirates were planning for Polanco to remain in extended spring training to test his shoulder. “We feel we’re better off controlling his environment,” Huntington said.
>>> UPDATE 11:46 a.m. – Chris Stewart (groin) will stay in extended spring to play in a couple of minor league games. He is expected to join the Pirates on Sunday in Boston.
>>> UPDATED 2:02 P.M. – Farewell, Jared Hughes. No more sprints in from the bullpen, no more Instagram photos from ballparks across this great land of ours.
After he cleared outright waivers, the Pirates put Hughes on unconditional release waivers, ending his six-year career with the team. “This is a super-sad day for me and my family,” Hughes said. “I love Pittsburgh, I love my teammates and the fans. It will always be family to me here.”
Hughes appeared in 11 Grapefruit League games (9 1/3 innings) and put up an 11.57 ERA and a 2.14 WHIP. Last season, Hughes pitched in 67 games and had a 3.03 ERA and a 1.42 WHIP. He missed the first month of the season recovering from an strained lat. “They told me they’re going in a different direction with the bullpen this year,” Hughe said.
Hughes was set to make $2.825 million this year and has one year of arbitration eligibility left. He also has one minor league option remaining. “I was overcome with emotion when they told me,” Hughes said. “It’s tough. But I’ve got to channel my emotions and use that as motivation.”
>>> Today is the final game in Florida. The equipment truck will roll north to Pittsburgh tonight, while the players and coaches catch a chartered jet to Montreal for two scrimmages against the Blue Jays. The pitching matchups are pretty sweet — Jameson Taillon v. Marcus Stroman, Chad Kuhl v. old friend Francisco Liriano (who’s had a really good spring up in Dunedin) — and crowds of 45,000 per game are expected.
>>> The Pirates will work out at 3 p.m. Sunday at Fenway Park.
>>> You want links? I’ve got links:
Notebook … In which Steven Brault was sent to Indy, which left three men standing for final rotation spot.
RE: that final spot in #Pirates starting rotation — is the guy who you BELIEVE will get the gig the same guy you WANT to get the gig?
— Rob Biertempfel (@BiertempfelTrib) March 28, 2017
Rule 5 pickup Tyler Webb is on the bubble for a spot on the opening day roster.
Red Sox 9, Pirates 2. Another brutal outing by Hutchison
>>> Wednesday’s game: Phillies (split squad) at Pirates, 1:05 p.m., LECOM Park, Bradenton. TV: Root.
Phillies: Andrew Pullin DH, Andres Blanco 4, Howie Kendrick 7, Maikel Franco 5, Tommy Joseph 3, Aaron Altherr 8, Cameron Rupp 2, Pedro Florimon 6, Cameron Perkins 9. RHP Luis Garcia. Also pitching for Phillies: TBA.
Pirates: Alen Hanson 7, Phil Gosselin 4, Josh Bell 3, David Freese 5, Jordy Mercer 6, Danny Ortiz 8, Jacob Stallings 2, Casey Hughston 9, RHP Gerrit Cole 1. Also pitching for Pirates: RH Trevor Williams, RH A.J. Schugel. RH Jared Hughes.
>>> Thursday: Off day
>>> Friday’s game: Pirates vs. Blue Jays, 7:07 p.m., Olympic Stadium, Montreal. Radio: 93.7 FM. Pirates: Lineup TBA. RHP Jameson Taillon. Also pitching for Pirates: TBA. Blue Jays: Lineup TBA. RHP Marcus Stroman. Also pitching for Blue Jays: TBA.
>>> Saturday’s game: Pirates vs. Blue Jays, 1:07 p.m., Olympic Stadium, Montreal. TV: MLB Network. Radio: 93.7 FM. Pirates: Lineup TBA. RHP Chad Kuhl. Also pitching for Pirates: TBA. Blue Jays: Lineup TBA. LHP Francisco Liriano. Also pitching for Blue Jays: TBA.
>>> Sunday: Off day. Also: RHP Ivan Nova will pitch in a minor league (extended spring training) game at Pirate City.
>>> Monday’s game: Pirates at Red Sox, 2:05 p.m., Fenway Park, Boston. TV: Root. Radio: 93.7 FM
Pirates: Lineup TBA. RHP Gerrit Cole (2017 debut).
Red Sox: Lineup TBA. RHP Rick Porcello (2017 debut).
>>> Tuesday: Off
>>> Wednesday’s game: Pirates at Red Sox, 7:10 p.m., Fenway Park, Boston. TV: Root. Radio: 93.7 FM
Pirates: Lineup TBA. RHP Jameson Tailon (2017 debut).
Red Sox: Lineup TBA. LHP Chris Sale (2017 debut).
>>> Thursday’s game: Pirates at Red Sox, 1:35 p.m., Fenway Park, Boston. TV: Root. Radio: 93.7 FM
Pirates: Lineup TBA. RHP Josh Kuhl (2017 debut).
Red Sox: Lineup TBA. LHP Eduardo Rodriguez (2017 debut).
Rob Biertempfel is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org or via Twitter @BiertempfelTrib.