Monday, March 30, 2009

Bottom 7

Well, my home-run derby never happened - at least not yet.

It's 1-1 in the bottom of the seventh, and the Pirates and Reds have teamed for nine hits. And neither team has left the yard - a rarity this spring at the wind tunnel that is McKechnie Field.

So the Pirates have 35 players in camp, and more than half are pitchers. Eighteen, to be exact. That means unless the Pirates plan on breaking camp with just seven position players, they have some decisions to make.

Then again, you can never have enough pitching. Maybe they're on to something...

1-1, bottom 7.


A snoozer here at McKechnie - 0-0 after three and a half.

Watch. Now that I said that, both teams will play home-run derby for the next six hours. Then again, the wind IS blowing in, so that may be harder today than it has been the past few weeks.

(As I write this, Eric Hinske cracks a double to right...they're off!)

Only a few games left in this elongated spring. Believe it? I love spring training, but will be nice when the games start to count...


Welcome to the final week of the 2009 spring training season - and the Reds final game in Bradenton.


Let's look the players participating in this historic occasion.

Willy Taveras, cf
Chris Dickerson, lf
Joey Votto, 1b
Brandon Phillips, 2b
Jay Bruce, rf
Jeff Keppinger, 3b
Paul Janish, ss
Ryan Hanigan, c
Joey Cueto, p

Nate McLouth, cf
Freddy Sanchez, 2b
Ryan Doumit, c
Eric Hisnke, rf
Adam LaRoche, 1b
Craig Monroe, lf
Ramon Vazquez, 3b
Jack Wilson, ss
Ross Ohlendorf, p

Sunday, March 29, 2009

9-8 Yankees

The Buccos made it interesting, putting runners on the corners with one out. But the Yankees held on to a 9-8 win in front of 10,580 fans.

10,580 fans. To see a spring training game.


Be back tomorrow when the Reds make their final trip to Bradenton before spending their springs in Goodyear, Arizona.

The last week of Grapefruit ball is upon us...

See ya tomorrow!

Too much

George M. Steinbrenner Field is nice to look at. It seats nearly 11,000 people. And the miniature monument park out front is a nice touch.

But this doesn't feel like spring training. Spring training is all about intimacy - and GMS doesn't have a whole lot of that.

It's too big, and has too much to take in. It's tough getting close to the field, and ultimately, the players.

(Mind you, I am writing this from the point of view of a spectator).

Cozy McKechnie Field feels like spring training. Joker Marchant feels like spring training. Even the Phillies' new park in Clearwater, which has a tiki bar in the outfield, still has a right-on-top-of-the-action charm.

Make no mistake, GMS is beatiful. And most of the seats are under an awning, providing sun-baked Floridians with shade.

It's just a litte too much.

Power up

It's a tidy little 8-8 tie here at George M. Steinbrenner, as the Pirates, thanks in part to home runs by Ryan Doumit and Adam LaRoche, slugged their back from an 8-2 hole against Yankees hurler A.J. Burnett.

The Yankees had a seven-run fourth inning - and the Buccos answered with six of their own in the fifth.

Mariano Rivera, fresh from his daily ritual of walking on water, just strike out the side in the top of the sixth.

It's 8-8, bottom six.

A wet one

George M. Steinbrenner field is covered in tarp, but it appears there will be a game today in Tampa, where the Pirates play the Yankees for the final time this spring.

I got 'em. You need 'em.

Nyjer Morgan, lf
Freddy Sanchez, 2b
Nate McLouth, cf
Ryan Doumit, c
Adam LaRoche, 1b
Eric Hinske, dh
Brandon Moss, rf
Andy LaRoche, 3b
Jack Wilson, ss
Zach Duke, p

Derek Jeter, ss
Johnny Damon, lf
Nick Swisher, 1b
Hideki Matsui, dh
Jorge Posada, c
Robinson Cano, 2b
Xavier Nady, rf
Ramiro Pena, 3b
Brett Gardner, cf
A.J. Burnett, p

Less than two hours to game time - we think...

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Buccos win

Ryan Howard's home run hasn't landed yet.
Neither has Garrett Jones'.
But the game is over at McKechnie, with the Pirates plastering the world champion Phillies 10-4.

The Pirates head to Tampa on Sunday to face the New York Yankees.

I will see ya then!


Sorry I haven't posted in a while.
I was given the duty of retrieving Ryan Howard's home run ball, and I just got back from Miami.
Seriously, Philadelphia's first baseman hit an absolute monster over the green batter's eye in dead-center field. Yes, a heavy wind is blowing out - but it's been blowing out all day and for every hitter. Howard is the only one thus far to hit a pitch clear out of the country.

The Pirates lead 3-1 thanks in part to Andrew McCutchen. Arguably one of the best all-around players in camp, McCutchen has doubled twice and hit a home run himself in the fifth. It wasn't Howard-esque - but it wasn't a cheapie, either.

Bradenton resident Jamie Moyer just whiffed Jason Jaramillo, closing the fifth inning.

3-1 Pirates as we head to the sixth.


Hello folks!

The Phillies visit the Buccos today at McKechnie Field.

Let's see who's playing today:

Jimmy Rollins, ss
Shane Victorino, cf
Matt Stairs, lf
Ryan Howard, 1b
Geoff Jenkins, rf
Miguel Cairo, 3b
Marcus Giles, 2b
Carlos Ruiz, c
Jamie Moyer, p

Andrew McCutchen, cf
Brian Bixler, 2b
Craig Monroe, rf
Adam LaRoche, 1b
Ramon Vazquez, 3b
Jasaon Jaramillo, c
Jeff Salazar, lf
Luis Cruz, ss
Ian Snell p

Friday, March 27, 2009

0-3 in the dark

The Pirates lost another night game in Bradenton, losing 4-1 against the Blue Jays.
Then again, they had to get past Roy Halladay, who was, well, Roy Halladay - no walks, four hits, four strikeouts, one run in seven innings.

I will be back here tomorrow when Pirates host the world champion Phillies.

See ya then.


Stretch time here at McKechnie, where the Pirates trail the Blue Jays 3-1.

Night has hasn't been too kind to the Pirates at McKechnie - they dropped the first night game last year to the Yankees, and lost under the lights to the Tampa Bay Rays earlier this spring.

Tonight, they've been hamstrung by Roy Halladay, who has allowed a run on four hits in 6-plus innings.

Bottom 4

It is 1-1 between the Pirates and the Blue Jays here on a gorgeous night at McKechnie Field.

We need more night baseball around here. This is great. Nice and cool out (OK, it's a little toasty), and the field looks sparkling.

We've even seen a wind-blown home run off the bat of Brad Emaus.
Yes, Brad Emaus!

Virgil Vasquez is matching Roy Halladay pitch for pitch, and it is picture perfect out here.

1-1. Bottom of the 4th.

Night II

It's another night excursion at McKechnie Field, where the Pirates play host to the Toronto Blue Jays under the lights.

This is John Lembo, and I will be reporting live throughout the night.

And it's WINDY. VERY. Bring an anchor and staple your hat to your head should you decide to visit the ol' ballyard.

Wonder who's playing?

Let's check it out.

Blue Jays:
Marco Scutaro, ss
Brad Emaus, 2b
Alex Rios, rf
Vernon Wells, cf
Lyle Overbay, 1b
Scott Rolen, 3b
Rod Barajas, c
Travis Snider, lf
Howie Clark, dh
Roy Halladay, p

Nyjer Morgan, lf
Freddy Sanchez, 2b
Nate McLouth, cf
Ryan Doumit, c
Eric Hinske, 1b
Brandon Moss, rf
Andy LaRoche, 3b
Brian Bixler, ss
Virgil Vasquez, p

First pitch in about three hours...

Monday, March 23, 2009

Pirates win

Pirates 4, Rays 1

Zach Duke threw five scorless innings, lowering his spring ERA to 1.83, and Jack Wilson, breaking in a new stance, doubled twice and scored two runs.

The Pirates are back in Bradenton until Friday night's game against the Toronto Blue Jays, so I will see you then.

2-0 Buccos

The rain is starting to fall here at McKechnie Field, where the Pirates lead 2-0 after three innings.
Eric Hinske tripled and scored on a Brandon Moss groundout, and Zach Duke - the pitcher! - laced a run-scoring to plate Jack Wilson.

Duke is pitching well, too, liming the Rays to a hit in three innings.

The fans are streaming out of the bleachers...wonder if they'll be back.

Then again, it's hard to feel the heat in cool spring rain.

Rays Daze

It's cloudy and a little chilly at McKechnie Field today. Can't say I'm feeling the heat, folks.

(I'm gonna milk that for all it's worth...)

This is John Lembo, and I will be blogging from today's game between the Pirates and Rays.

Who's playing?

Gabe Kapler, cf
Dioner Navarro, c
Willy Aybar, 2b
Carlos Pena, 1b
Pat Burrell, lf
Justin Ruggiano, rf
Reid Brignac, ss
Adam Kennedy, 3b
Matt Joyce, dh
Jason Hammel, p

Nyjer Morgan, lf
Andrew McCutchen, cf
Ramon Vazquez, 2b
Adam LaRoche, 1b
Eric Hinske, 3b
Brandon Moss, rf
Jack Wilson, ss
Jasaon Jaramillo, c
Zach Duke, p

Sunday, March 22, 2009


Reds 6, Pirates 0.

Ian Snell is OK, diagnosed with a blister on his right foot.

But the Pirates mustered just two his - none against Reds starter Aaron Harang, who threw six innings - in one of faster games of the spring.

Back here tomorrow, when the Pirates play host to those defending American League champions from St. Petersburg.

See ya then!


Ian Snell's return to the Pirates didn't exactly go as planned.
After making two impressive starts for Puerto Rico during the World Baseball Classic, Snell gave up six runs on nine hits in 4 1/3 innings to the Reds today at McKechnie Field.
He limped off the mound midway through the fifth after being examined by the team trainer...Sean Burnett is in now.
The Reds lead 6-0, thanks to a five-run second inning powered by two-run doubles from Paul Janis and Darnell McDonald.
Jonny Gomes, much the delight of the crowd - for reasons I will never understand - homered in the fifth.
The Pirates, meanwhile, have been hamstrung by Reds starter Aaron Harang, who has allowed no hits through four.
6-0 Reds.

Here we go AGAIN

Pirates and Reds - AGAIN.
This time, however, we are at windy McKechnie Field. I'm John Lembo, and I will with you this afternoon.
Let's check out who is playing.
Darnell McDonald, cf
Danny Richar, 2b
Laynce Nix, rf
Jonny Gomes, lf
Daryle Ward, 1b
Adam Rosales, 3b
Paul Janish, ss
Wilkin Castillo, c
Aaron Harang, p

Jack Wilson, ss
Freddy Sanchez, 2b
Nate McLouth, cf
Ryan Doumit, c
Adam LaRoche, 1b
Craig Monroe, lf
Brandon Moss, rf
Andy LaRoche, 3b
Ian Snell, p

Saturday, March 21, 2009


Never boring with the Buccos...
Craig Hansen just walked Laynce Nix with two outs in the ninth and the Pirates leading the Reds 6-5. Wily Taveras stands in...and walks.
Wow. Hansen is making this very interesting. Now it's Adam Rosales' turn...
..and HE walks.
Hansen, throw a STRIKE!
Well, he has to now...Joey Votto is up with the bases loaded, and pitching coach Joe Kerrigan is taking a brisk jog toward the mound. This is Hansen's game to win or lose - heck, it's still March. It'd be MY game to win or lose if I was out there.
So Votto stands this game just hit the three-hour mark... and Hansen fires in his sixth straight ball. (These aren't exactly borderline calls, either.)
3-1. Catcher Jason Jaramillo has to lunge for the next pitch. A foul pitch fills up the count...3-2 to Joey Votto...and the crowd has a pulse! Believe this?
...and Hasnen strikes him out looking...
Pirates 6, Reds 5...
see ya tomorrow!

Top Eight

The Pirates lead the Reds 6-2 at Ed Smith Stadium, powered by a three-run sixth inning.
A pair of new Pirates sparked the rally. Eric Hinske doubled in Ryan Doumit, and Ramon Vazquez, back from the World Baseball Classic, hit a two-run home run.
Paul Maholm was, well, Paul Maholm, throwing six shutout innings. The Reds' finally dented the scoreboard when Jay Bruce homered off Matt Capps.
The Pirates a six outs away from victory!
Aaaaaaaaargh you ready?

(First time I've done that all spring. Can't believed I held out this long.)

6-2 Buccos, top of the eighth.

After four

The Pirates lead the Reds 2-0 thanks to a towering two-run home run off the bat of Nate McLouth in the top of the fourth.

So whenever Reds star-in-waiting Jay Bruce steps to the plate, the fans here at Ed Smith serenade him with calls of "Bruuuuuuce."

This offends me as a Springsteen fan...get your own call, Jay! Until you write something like "Jungleland" (or anything off Born to Run) this on is already taken.

2-0 Pirates, top of the fifth.


Let's see what will fry first - my face or my hard drive?
I can only be at one place - Ed Smith Stadium, where shade goes to die. This is John Lembo, and I am blogging from today's game between the Sarasota Reds and Pittsburgh Pirates.
Who's playing?
Let's see.

Njyer Morgan, lf
Freddy Sanchez, 2b
Nate McLouth, cf
Ryan Doumit, c
Adam LaRoche, 1b
Eric Hinske, rf
Ramon Vazquez, 3b
Jack Wilson, ss
Paul Maholm, p

Willy Tavaras, cf
Alex Gonzalez, ss
Joey Votto, 1b
Edwin Encarnacion, 3b
Jay Bruce, rf
Jeff Keppinger, 2b
Chris Dickerson, lf
Ryan Hanigan, c
Homer Bailey, p

No DHs...hmmm...spring training is starting to wind down, folks.
First pitch in five minutes.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009


Anderson Machado is the hero today, singling in Jeff Salazar in the 10th to cap the Pirates' 4-3 win over the Twins. The Pirates are now 3-0 against the Twins with four games left, and clinch the series with a win March 31.

Their prize?

Nada. Nothing. Zip.

But it makes for good blog fodder, don't you think?

See ya Saturday in Sarasota...


WHAT A SERIES! ESPN Classic, get yourself to Bradenton, for this seven-game title between the Twins and Pirates continues to impress.

It's 2-2 in the fifth at McKechnie, as home runs by Jason Kubel and Delmon Young have knotted the four game of this seven-game series.

(I'm not kidding. These two teams play SEVEN times this spring. Makes sense...Fort Myers is right in our backyard!)

The Pirates scored their two on an error in the second.

2-2, we head to the fifth...stay tuned...the Gulf Coast Champeenship is anyboyd's, folks.


The Saga continues...

Welcome to Game 4 of this seven-game spring training series between the Twins and Pirates. This is John Lembo, blogging from the wind tunnel known as McKechnie Field. Strong breeze blowing right to left today, so we'll see what transpires.
The players are as follows...

Carlos Gomez, cf
Matt Tolbert, ss
Jason Kubel, dh
Delmong Young, lf
Brendan Harris, 3b
Luke Hughes, 2b
Mike Redmond, c
David Winfree, rf
Matt Macri, 1b
Francisco Liriano, p

Andrew McCutchen, cf
Freddy Sanchez, 2b
Eric Hinske, rf
Ryan Doumit, c
Adam LaRoche, 1b
Andy LaRoche, dh
Neil Walker, 3b
Brian Bixler, ss
Jeff Salazar, lf
Zach Duke, p

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Over and out and again

Pirates lose 9-2.

Not a whole lot of fun stuff for the Buccos in this one - with the exception of Jeff Salazar's fourth home run of the spring - and the Grapefruit League-leading 27th for the Pirates.

The Twins - WHO ELSE?????? - come to McKechnie Field on Wednesday to play the Pirates.

See ya there!


Technical snafus have made tonight less than exhilarating for me, while mound snafus have given the Pirates the same feeling.

The Yankees lead the Buccos 8-1 in the sixth inning thanks mostly to New York's six-run third inning, when the Bombers chased Virgil Vasquez. Two runs came on Hideki Matsui's home run, which landed somewhere near Babe Ruth's monument at the New Yankee Stadium - yes, I am capitalizing new because it is NOT Yankee Stadium. Yankee Stadium is no more.

The Pirates have just one hit through six innings and looked overmatched against Yankee starter CC Sabathia.

Thanks to night baseball, I just may sleep at McKechnie Field's press box tonight when I return to Bradenton - then again, I hope this game is over before Wednesday's first pitch.

Yankee baseball

The last time I was at Legends Field - whoops, George M. Steinbrenner Field - Billy Crystal was batting leadoff.
Well, no comedic cameos this time around, but the Pittsburgh Pirates are in Tampa to play the New York Yankees.
The lineups:

Nyjer Morgan, lf
Jack Wilson, ss
Nate McLouth, cf
Garrett Jones, 1b
Jose Tabata, rf
Steve Pearce, dh
Neil Walker, 3b
Jason Jaramillo, c
Luis Cruz, 2b
Virgil Vasquez, p

Jorge Posada, c
Johnny Damon, lf
Mark Teixeira, 1b
Hideki Matsui, dh
Xavier Nady, rf
Melky Cabrera, cf
Cody Ransom, 3b
Ramiro Pena, 2b
Eduardo Nunez, ss
CC Sabathia, p

First pitch in less than three hours...

Monday, March 16, 2009

Gone in a blink

Well, that meeting at the mound worked.

Price blew through Jack Wilson and Nyjer Morgan, stranding the runners and preserving the Rays' lead.

4-3 Tampa Bay as we head to the seventh.

Feeling the heat

The last time I saw David Price, he was soaked in champagne, reveling in the Rays' improbable run to the World Series.
Now, on this sticky spring night in Bradenton, Price is dealing against the Pittsburgh Pirates, who trail Price's Rays 4-2 in the bottom of the sixth.
Tampa Bay scored four runs off relievers Brian Slocum and Dave Davidson, who struggled with control problems.

Of, if you just heard something, that was my skipping a beat - a foul ball from Craig Monroe just zoomed into the booth next to me, putting a deep hole in the wall.

Hey, better that than someone's skull, right?

Monroe straightens that swing and doubles to left center, plating Adam LaRoche and slicing Pittsburgh's deficit to 4-3.

Andy LaRoche walks, and there is a meeting on the mound...we'll be back...


Yeah, I'm a purist...but I'm a also a sucker for a night game.
So I am sitting in the press box soaking in a beautiful sight - McKechnie Field, packed to capacity, sparkling under the lights.
The Pirates lead the Tampa Bay Rays 2-0 in the bottom of the fourth inning, and have gotten another sparkling outing from lefty Paul Maholm, who began the night with a 1.00 ERA in his first four starts.
No. 5 hasn't been much different. He has struck out four, walked one, allowed one hit and has induced two double players. And everything Tampa Bay has hit - with the exception of Evan Longoria's pop out to Freddy Sanchez - has been on the ground, just the way Maholm wants it.
Sanchez and Craig Monroe have knocked in runs for the Buccos.

It's a glorious night for baseball in downtown Bradenton, and the Pirates lead 2-0.

Night game

Strange feeling here at McKechnie Field, as it's a little past 3 p.m. and there is no baseball in sight. Must be a night game...and that it is, the second in McKechnie's storied history. The Pirates host the Tampa Bay Rays for a 7:05 start.

The lineups:
Jason Bartlett, ss
Gabe Kapler, rf
Evan Longoria, 3b
Pat Burrell, dh
Willy Aybar, 1b
Ben Zobrist, lf
Dioner Navarro, c
Justin Ruggiano, cf
Ray Olmedo, 2b
Andy Sonnanstine, p

Nyjer Morgan, lf
Freddy Sanchez, 2b
Nate McLouth, cf
Ryan Doumit, c
Adam LaRoche, 1b
Jose Tabata, rf
Craig Monroe, dh
Andy LaRoche, 3b
Jack Wilson, ss
Paul Maholm, p

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Pirates win 7-7

The Pirates almost pulled out the victory, but settled for a 7-7 tie that had to feel almost like a win.

Trailing 7-4 with two on and two out in the top of the ninth, Pedro Alvarez hit a three-run homer to center field that struck halfway up the batter's eye, which stands 414 feet from home plate.

Garrett Jones then drove a ball that landed on the blue awning that hangs from the second story of the Rays offices which sit behind the boardwalk in right field.

The game went 11 innings before being called because both teams ran out of pitchers.

Pirates grab lead

Andy LaRoche homored off Dan Wheeler with one out in the seventh to tie the score at 2-2.

It was Andy's second home run of the spring, moving him ahead of his brother, Pirate first baseman Adam. The Brothers LaRoche began the day tied with one home run each.

Brian Bixler, the next hitter, triple to center field.

Wheeler hit Luis Cruz to put runners on first and third with one out.

Cruz helped break up a double play with a slide into second after Jason Jaramillo grounded to second. Bixler scored to move the Pirates ahead 3-2.

McCutchen triple leads to run

The Pirates finally break through with a run in the top of the sixth inning.

Andrew McCutchen tripled to center field off Jason Isringhausen that sailed over the head of Rays center fielder Gabe Kapler. McCutchen came home on a line drive to left by Jose Tabata.

Izzy made his first appearance of the spring for the Rays. The former A's and cardinals closer signed a minor league contract last month as he tries to work his way back to the major leagues after suffering from arm trouble last season with the Cards.

It's 2-1 Rays in the bottom of the sixth.

Pirates trail 2-0 after 3

The Rays strike first.

Singles from Shawn Riggans, Adam Kennedy and Justin Ruggiano off Tom Gorzelanny in the bottom of the third loaded the bases for Carl Crawford.

C.C. forced Ruggiano at second while Riggans scored the first run of the game.

Crawford stole second with Gape Kapler at the plate, but the move to scoring position didn't pay off. Jose Tabata threw CC out at the plate on Kapler's hard-hit single to left field.

Kennedy scored easily on Kapler's bingle, and that's where we stand heading into the fourth: Rays 2, Pirates 0.

Matt Garza has allowed three hits in his first three innings.

Pirates at Rays

Today is the first of a home-and-home between the Pirates and the Rays. This one is at Charlotte Sports Park in Port Charlotte.

Monday night, the two teams meet at historic McKechnie Field in Bradenton.

You may not have noticed, but the Pirates are just 1.5 games behind the Atlanta Braves for first place in the Grapefruit League standings.

Yeah, well ... here are the lineups:

Andrew McCutchen CF
Jose Tabata LF
Adam LaRoche DH
Craig Monroe RF
Steve Pearce 1B
Andy LaRoche 3B
Brian Bixler SS
Luis Cruz 2B
Jason Jaramillo C
Tom Gorzelanny P

Justin Ruggiano RF
Carl Crawford LF
Gabe Kapler CF
Carlos Pena 1B
Pat Burrell DH
Morgan Ensberg 3B
Reid Brignac SS
Shawn Riggans C
Adam Kennedy 2B
Matt Garza P

Saturday, March 14, 2009


Yet another marathon comes to a close at McKechnie, where the Yankees beat the Pirates 13-10.

The Pirates made it interesting, scoring five times in the ninth, thanks in part home runs from Garrett Jones and Jeff Salazar.

And it only took three hours and 34 minutes! Well, what else can you expect when there 15 combined walks, four hit batsmen and two ejections?

Well, I'll be back Monday for the Pirates' first home night game of the spring against the Tampa Bay Rays.

See ya then!

Yer Out! And so are you!

Now here's something you don't see every day - not one, but two ejections during spring training.
First, home plate umpire Rob Healey rang up Pirates second baseman Freddy Sanchez after he was called out on strikes in the fifth.
Manager John Russell came out of the dugout and was punched out by base umpire Jerry Crawford.
Both got rousing ovations as they exited back to the the clubhouse.
As for the game, the Yankees have put three runs in the seventh against Craig Hansen and lead 6-3.

Blast off

Make that seven.
As in, seven home runs in the last two home games for the Pirates, who lead 2-0 over the New York Yankees thanks to some power.
Nyjer Morgan hit Phil Hughes' second pitch of the afternoon over the wall in left. Three batters later, Ryan Doumit followed suit, hitting a ball that looked like a golf ball as it soared near the practice field by the Pirates' clubhouse.
Ross Ohlendorf has been perfect against his former club.

2-0 Pirates after three...


Nate McLouth, not Andrew McCutchen, is batting third and play center today for the Pirates.
No injury, no breaking news - just a typo in the orginal version.

First pitch in about a half hour.

Pinstripe Saturday

It's an amazing day at McKechnie Field - plenty of sun, plenty of warmth...
...and plenty of Yankees.
This is John Lembo with The Bradenton Herald, and I will be here as the Pirates take on the Yanks in a split-squad game.

The Yankees:
Melky Cabrera, cf
Nick Swisher, rf
Mark Teixeira, 1b
Jorge Posada, dh
Austin Jackson, lf
Kevin Cash, c
Doug Bernier, 2b
Kevin Russo, 3b
Ramiro Pena, ss
Phil Hughes, p

Gotta admit - didn't think the Yankees would bring anyone to Bradenton, giving that they are playing another game in Tampa today. But the Bronx Bomber faithful - and I am willing to bet there will be PLENTY today - should be happy with the upper half of the lineup, including Jackson, considered one of baseball's best prospects.

The Pirates:
Nyjer Morgan, lf
Freddy Sanchez, 2b
Andrew McCutchen, cf
Ryan Doumit, c
Adam LaRoche, 1b
Craig Monroe, dh
Jeff Salazar, rf
Neil Walker, 3b
Jack Wilson, ss
Ross Ohlendorf, p

Last time we saw Craig Monroe, he was peppering McKechnie Field with home runs. Three, to be exact, against the Minnesota Twins.

First pitch in about 3 1/2 hours.

Friday, March 13, 2009

Salzar hit its far.

Yep...reserve outfielder Jeff Salazar launched a three-run home run in the ninth, and the Pirates, in dramatic fashion, score a 6-5 win over the Phillies.

The Buccos are now 10-4 with two wins over the world champs!

October, here they come!

see ya tomorrow...


So I was thinking...if a team beats the defending world champs twice in the same spring, should that equate to one regular season win?
Then the Phillies put up five runs in the sixth and lead 5-3.

Nearly 10,000 people here today...I guess that's what happens when you win a world title.

I'll be back when the game is done...

2-0 Buccos

Talk about a trial by fire - Pirates lefty Dave Davidson, fresh off playing for Canada in the World Baseball Classic, comes into today's game with the bases loaded and two outs in the third.
He responds by whiffing John Mayberry Jr. to preserve Pittsburgh's 2-0 lead.
Zach Duke was solid, throw 3 2/3 innings and coming an Andy LaRoche error away from going four. He struck out two and walked one, allowing one hit.

Garrett Jones continues to rake for the Pirates, as his double in the second pushed Steven Pearce to third. Pearce scored on a balk by Philly hurler Joe Blanton, and a Brian Bixler hit plated Jones, who also made a diving stab at first base to rob Pedro Feliz of a single in the third inning.

Meanwhile, at this pearl of a ballpark in Clearwater, the line to get into the Philly's apparel store is as long as Game 5 of last year's World Series. Were they giving stuff away in there?

Guess today's not a good day for me to by my annual spring training t-shirt. Ah well, we still have three more weeks.

2-0 Pirates after three in Clearwater.

we got lineups

Let 'er rip!

Eric Bruntlett, lf
Jason Donald, ss
Raul Ibanez, dh
Ryan Howard, 1b
Jayson Werth, cf
John Mayberry Jr. rf
Pedro Feliz, 3b
Miguel Cairo, 2b
Carlos Ruiz, c
Joe Blanton, p

Nyjer Morgan, lf
Andrew McCutchen, cf
Andy LaRoche, 3b
Ryan Doumit, dh
Steve Pearce, rf
Garrett Jones, 1b
Robinzon Diaz, c
Brian Bixler, 2b
Luis Cruz, ss
Zach Duke, p

Live from home of the champions

This is John Lembo with The Bradenton Herald, and I am at gorgeous Bright House Field in Clearwater where the Pirates play the world champion Philadelphia Philliles.

This is the Pirates' lone trip to Clearwater this spring - makes sense. It's 40 miles away from McKechnie. Yet they go to Fort Myers - roughly 140 miles round trip - a combined five times to play the Red Sox and Twins.

I looove spring training!

Well, I have the Pirates lineup but not the Phillies. And I do nothing halfway. So I will return shortly with both.

First pitch in less than three hours.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Over and out

In the case of Craig Monroe, WAY out.
His three home runs lead the Pirates to a 6-4 win in front of over 5,000 faithful at McKechnie Field.

See ya tomorrow in Clearwater...if the Internet works.


This is John Lembo, signing of...

Hammerin' Craig

Well, he did it again...for the third time today and fourth in five at-bats, Craig Monroe hit a home run.
And it was monster.
This one bounced off the Wyman Plumbing sign in left center, arming the Pirates with a 6-1 lead over the Minnesota Twins.
Yes, the wind is blowing out at McKechnie - but the wind is blowing out for everyone.
And the only one with three home runs?
Craig Monroe.

6-1 Pirates, nottom of the seventh.

Power Pirates

Grab a bat and come on down to McKechnie Field!
Wanna hit a home run? Today's the day.
Craig Monroe has hit two near the Girls & Boys Club. Ryan Doumit and Nate McLouth hit a pair of moonshots way over the Corona sign in left.
And the Twins' Carlos Gomez just hit one over the 335 sign.
(Yes, genius...the wind IS blowing out...)

It's 4-1 Pirates, top of the fourth...


Guess what?
It's spring training at McKechnie Field, and the Pittsburgh Pirates are playing the Minnesota Twins.
This is the third of a seven-part series this spring for these two teams, and seeing as how the Reds will be in Arizona, I envision even more Twins-Pirates matchups in 2010.
For now, however, let's focus on this one.
Denard Span, rf
Matt Tolbert, 2b
Carlos Gomez, cf
Delmon Young, lf
Danny Valencia, 3b
Brock Peterson, dh
Matt Macri, 1b
Wilson Ramos, c
Trevor Plouffe, ss
Scott Baker, p

I like Carlos Gomez a lot...he's fast and exciting and he's a big reason the Twins dealt Johan Santana to the New York Mets.

Nate McLouth, cf
Freddy Sanchez, 2b
Ryan Doumit, c
Adam LaRoche, 1b
Craig Monroe, rf
Steve Pearce, dh
Jose Tabata, lf
Neil Walker, 3b
Jack Wilson, ss
Virgil Vasquez, p

Steve Pearce sighting! We have a Steve Pearce sighting! He's been limited to five at-bats this spring with a sore calf...and we shall see if Vasquez's stuff is as sharp as his hair.

First pitch in about three hours.

Monday, March 9, 2009

Over and out - finally.

It’s over.
Shelby Ford strikes out with bases full, and the Red Sox win a well-pitched 15-14 game that moved long crisply at four hours, 10 minutes.
Tomorrow is an off day.


Josh Reddick bounced a two-out, run-scoring ground-rule double over the fence in right center, and the Red Sox have retaken the lead, 15-14.
What a battle! This place is crackling! It’s like watching a great heavyweight fight…
On to the bottom of the 10th…

9, Part 2

Well, well...
Bixler singled, Jones doubled and Shelby Ford's sac fly has cut the Buccos' deficit to 14-12.
Andrew McCutchen walked, and now Jose Tabata steps up.
Wes Littleton, Boston’s side-armed righty, falls behind 3-1 before the sizzling Tabata rips a tw-run double into right center. He has four RBIs on the game.
We. Are. Tied. And this game is approaching the four-hour mark.
Four hours at a spring-training game. The players must be loving this…
Pedro Alvarez, the team’s No. 1 draft pick, falls behind 0-2…and can’t check his swing for strike three.
Two out. One away from extra innings.
Neil Walker flies out…we’re off to the 10th.


Lars Anderson - I don't believe he's related to Metallica drummer Lars Ulrich, though you never now - just singled in a run, stretching the Red Sox lead to 13-11 in the top of the ninth.

He scored on a double by - who else? - Dusty Brown, pushing the BoSox edge to 14-11.


I tell ya, there is NO quit in these Buccos.
They just scored four times in the eighth - thanks in part to Brian Bixler's triple and Jose Tabata's double - and have cut their deficit to 12-11 after being down 8-0.
A good chunk of the sold-out crowd - B-Town's first of the spring - has stayed to watch the comeback...let's see if they'll stay for a win.

Back in the ninth...


You can only keep a guy like Dusty Brown down for so long.
No. 80 on the roster but No. 1 in our hearts, Boston's catcher hit a wind-blown home run off Sean Burnett in the top of the seventh to give the Red Sox a 12-7 lead.
Andrew McCutchen - that guy can RUN! - tripled in a run in the sixth and scored on a single by Jose Tabata.
19 runs. 20 hits. Three errors.
Spring in the air AND on the field in this rematch of the 1903 World Series.

Blast off

Whole lotta hitting going on at McKechnie Field, where the Red Sox lead the Pirates 8-4.
With 15 players in the WBC, the Red Sox didn't bring a lineup full of luster to the Friendly City.
Josh Bard hit a three-run home to right. Nick Green hit a solo shot off the batter's eye in dead center. And Brad Wilkerson's grand slam bounced off the Bradenton billboard in right center.
How democratic!
But what else would you expect from a team orginally named the Americans?

8-4 BoSox.

The Red Sox are coming! The Red Sox are coming!

Autograph seekers are lining up in front of McKechnie Field roughly four hours before game time, and folks are already combing 9th Avenue with envelopes full of available tickets.
Yep, the Boston Red Sox are coming to Bradenton.
This is John Lembo of The Bradenton Herald, set to bring you the action from today's game between the BoSox and YOUR Pittsburgh Pirates.
This will be a bit of a different experience for Red Sox fans - this is the first spring without Manny Ramirez in nearly a decade and David Ortiz is in the World Baseball Classic. The WBC also took away Jason Bay, who is playing for Cananda.
So who did the Red Sox bring?
Let's see:

Nick Green, 2b
Jed Lowrie, ss
Josh Bard, dh
Jeff Bailey, rf
Brad Wilkerson, cf
Chris Carter, lf
Paul McAnulty, 1b
George Kottaras, c
Gil Velazquez, 3b
Jon Lester, p

Well, Lester is pitching....

The Pirates:
Nyjer Morgan, lf
Freddy Sanchez, 2b
Nate McLouth, cf
Ryan Doumit, dh
Adam LaRoche, 1b
Andy LaRoche, 3b
Jack Wilson, ss
Robinson Diaz, c
Jeff Salazar, rf

With Brandon Moss (thumb) and Eric Hinske (ribs) hurting, Salazar is getting a shot in right field today. Andy LaRoche, meanwhile, has been busy raking this spring - he's 9-for-15 (.600) in seven games and reached base all five times Sunday against the Houston Astros.

First pitch in about three hours. Heard this game is on the cusp of being sold out, so if you want to come out, get here now...

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Pirates win

Final score 11-4 from good ol' McKechnie Field...
We had tape-measure home runs, errors, bases-loaded name it, it was here.
And as the seagulls attack the bleachers and the ballyard all but empties, I bid you adeiu.

I'll be here tomorrow when the Pirates host he Boston Red Sox.

See ya then!

Big fly day

The win was blowing out. And the ball has followed suit thus far at McKechnie Field.

The Pirates lead the Astros 7-4 in bottom of the eighth on the strength of three home runs - a towering shot by Freddy Sanchez that is still sitting on the roof of the Boys & Girls Club, a blast over the scoreboard by Craig Monroe and a no-doubter in right field from Garrett Jones.
Monroe and Jones hit two-run shots.
The announced crowd is 3,959, and it is a pretty vocal bunch. Fans have been stomping on the bleachers and thus far during Jones' eighth-inning at-bat, disagreeing with the balls and strikes.
They want to see a grand slam from Jones, a big lefty who has worked the count full.
He walks. 8-4 Pirates.
The Astros have kicked the ball around to the tune of three errors, and pitcher Tyler Lumsden has fallen behind 2-0 to Andy LaRoche.
3-0. And he is a pitch away from walking in a run for the third time this inning.
He does. 9-4.
Dude, throw a STRIKE. It's spring training. Cookie one over. Let's go home.
Be back when it's over...or by the year 2525 - whichever comes first.

Done with three

Hey now, this one got eventful in a hurry.
Yordany Ramirez doubled in a run and then came around to score when left-fielder Nyjor Morgan bumbled a single off the bat of Hunter Pence.
The Pirates sliced the deficit thanks to Freddy Sancez, who launched a home run that parked itself on the roof of the Girls & Boys Club in left field. The ball is still out there, gleaming like a seashell on a sandy shoreline.

(Wax on, John, wax on...)

So it's 2-1 Astros.

I'm hunkering for a pretzel, though I haven't had good ballpark pretzel since leaving New York. They pretzels outside Yankee Stadium were scrumptous. They were the size of home plate, and were warmed on a charcoal grill. They smelled almost as good as they tasted. And unlike the preztels in these parts, they weren't caked in salt. They didn't need to be - the pretzel itself was so packed with flavor, no additions were needed.

Oh, to be young again...

2-1 Astros in the top of the fourth.

Houston's here

OK, I'll admit - I forgot to spring my clocks forward and was pretty darn late to the ballpark on this gorgeous Sunday afternoon in Bradenton.
But here I am, John Lembo, with The Bradenton Herald, and I will be blogging in this game between the Pittsburgh Pirates and Houston Astros.
The Astros don't come over from Kissimmee all that often, so let's see who made the trip.
Michael Bourn, cf
Yordany Ramirez, lf
Hunter Pence, rf
Aaron Boone, dh
David Newhan, 2b
Chris Johnson, 3b
John Gall, 1b
Drew Sutton, ss
Lou Palmisano, c
Brandon Backe, p

Not a bad pull. And it's not every day you get to see a guy who hit a walk-off home run to win a pennant - today's DH, Aaron Boone, did just that for the 2003 New York Yankees.

Nyjer Morgan, lf
Freddy Sanchez, 2b
Nate McLouth, cf
Ryan Doumit, c
Garrett Jones, 1b
Andy LaRoche, dh
Craig Monroe, rf
Neil Walker, 3b
Jack Wilson, ss
Ross Ohlendorf, p

Get used to seeing Monroe in right field - Brandon Moss, expected to be the Buccos guy in right, hurt his thumb Saturday in Fort Myers.

First pitch in about 20 minutes...

Friday, March 6, 2009

The end is near...

Two outs, one on and Brian Bixler is coming to pitch hit for Pittsbugrh in the bottom of the 9th, with the Pirates down 8-5 to the Rays.
Some of the crowd has cleared, but the sun-splashed bleachers are quite busy, keeping the seagulls from their daily rummaging of discarded hot dog wrappers and other tasty pieces of trash.
Bixler has run the count to 2-2 against Rays lefty Jason Cromer, and slaps a single to left, sending Garrett Jones to second.
Two on for Neil Walker, who has three hits on the day - and who takes strike one.
I just heard my first cowbell. Ugh.
Perhaps the cowbell phenomenon was the only drawback to the Rays' run to the Series last year - and what a drawback it was. Hearing that darn rigning in my sleep.
Walker whiffs. Rays win.
Feel the heat, folks.
See ya on Sunday.

Here come the Buccos

There is plenty of punch left in these Pittsburgh Pirates.
A three-run double off the bat of Andy Phillips has cut into the Tampa Bay Rays' lead, as it is 8-5 heading into the ninth.

Can they rally in bottom of half?
We shall see...check back soon.

All Rays

Well, the heat is burning the Pirates.
The Tampa Bay Rays lead 8-2 after six innings in front of a packed house at McKechnie Field.
Elliot Johnson homered for the Rays, who scored four times during the bottom of the second inning, during which they also stole two bases.
Oh, those Rays...
Andrew McCutchen homered off the scoreboard for the Pirates, who got an interesting two innings from reliever Virgil Vasquez, who struck out two and made a nifty bare-handed grab on a comebacker bat to the box.
Meanwhile, Johnson just pulled a Jesse Chavez pitch foul, and plunked it off a car in the players' lot.
Maybe we'll find out whose it is...

Good afternoon

Here they are - those defending American League Champion Tampa Bay Rays are here in Bradenton, set to face the Pittsburg Pirates in about 25 minutes.

Who brought whom?
Let's see:

Fernando Perez, cf
Justin Ruggiano, lf
Evan Longoria, 3b
Carlos Pena, 1b
Gabe Gross, rf
Dioner Navarro, c
Shawn Riggans, dh
Elliot Johnson, 2b
Reid Brignac, ss
Carlos Hernandez, p

Pena makes his spring debut after having surgery on his abdomen. And check it out, ladies - Longoria is here. Ain't he dreamy?

The Pirates:
Andrew McCutchen, lf
Freddy Sanchez, 2b
Nate McLouth, cf
Ryan Doumit, c
Adam LaRoche, 1b
Craig Monroe, rf
Brandon Moss, dh
Neil Walker, 3b
Jack Wilson, ss
Jimmy Barthmaier, p

First pitch is 21 minutes away.


Thursday, March 5, 2009


Well, the Pirates took a 6-5 in the on an RBI groundout by Garrett Jones.
But guess what? The Reds drew even, and Darnell McDonald just launced a grand slam off Ronald Uviedo.

Reds 10-6 winners over the Pirates in 10.

A thriller.

See ya tomorrow when the Pirates host those AL Champion Rays.


Well, I almost got my mugged mangled by a foul ball off the bat of Craig Tatum. It missed by a hair and bounced off the hand of Ogden Newspaper scribe John Perrotto, currently icing his bruised paw with a cold can of Sprite.

We got to the 10th here at Ed Smith with the score tied at 5. The Buccos came back in the ninth when Luis Cruz singled in Garrett Jones in the ninth. Pirate starter Jason Davis got out of a jam in the ninth, leaving runners on second and third.

Typically, tied spring-training games end after 10 innings. We'll see if this puppy follows suit.

Six are in

Despite a valiant effort, the Buccos are trailing 4-3 to the Reds at Ed Smith Stadium as we enter the seventh inning.

Pittsburgh drew even in the sixth, when Shelby Ford tripled and scored on a single from Brian Bixler. After a run scored on an error, Craig Monroe's sac fly plated Nyjer Morgan and drew the game even.

But the Reds took the lead on a home run by - who else? - THE Kevin Parker, whose long shot to right off Jeff Karstens has the score where it is now.

Nice crowd at the ballyard, but I am not going to miss Ed Smith Stadium a whole lot. I hate the idea of ballpark sitting empty, but this place is a bit antiquated.

But that's one man's opinion. Yes, it's MY opinion, which carries some more weight...but still...

After three...

...the Buccos trail the Reds 1-0. The Reds manufactured a run in the second when Brandon Phillips doubled, went to third on Jacque Jones' grounder and scored on a sacrifice fly by Adam Rosales.

Neat and tidy. Speaking of which, Hooters sent some of their A-teamers to Ed Smith Stadium today. Last I checked, they have posed 327 times for guys with cell phone cameras. Whoops....328...right near the guys with the radar guns, a couple of twentysomething males make a Kodak moment with the Holy Trinity of servers.

I think they're handing out coupons...either that, or those handy wipes they give ya with a plate of 75 wings.

As I pontificate on the wonderment of Hooters girls, Laynce Nix laces a two-run double of Jeff Karstens. And the Reds lead 3-0 in the bottom of the fourth.

This is more like it!

This is John Lembo, sports writer with The Bradenton Herald, and I am sitting in the press box at Ed Smith Stadium in Sarasota for today's Grapefruit League game between the Reds and your first-place Pirates.

(Check the standings. At 6-1, they lead the Grapefruit League by 1 1/2 games).

After enduring a chilly homestand at McKechnie, I am sitting here in shorts and sandals and sunglasses, finally feeling like a Floridian.


OK, let's look at the ol' lineups, shall we?

Nyjer Morgan, cf
Andrew McCutchen, lf
Brandon Moss, rf
Craig Monroe, dh
Andy LaRoche, 3b
Garrett Jones, 1b
Robinson Diaz, c
Shelby Ford, 2b
Brian Bixler, ss
Paul Maholm, p

The M-and-M-and-M-and-M boys front a lineup lacking the starpower of McLouth, Adam LaRoche and Doumit. But keep your eye on Ford and McCutchen - both are among the top 10 prospects in the Pirates organization, and Ford is having an impressive spring.

Norris Hopper, lf
Jeff Keppinger, ss
Wes Bankston, rf
Brandon Phillips, 2b
Jacque Jones, 1b
Adam Rosales, 3b
Laynce Nix, cf
Alex Gonzalez, dh
Chris Kroski, c
Nick Massett, p

It was Keppinger who nearly grounded into a triple play earlier this week at McKechnie Field, while Alex Gonzalez hit a walk-off home run to help the 2003 Marlins beat the New York Yankees in the World Series.

We're about 2 1/2 hours from first pitch as we count down the final days of the Reds' stay in Ed Smith Stadium.

I'll be back...

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Another win!

These guys are gooooooooood!

The Pirates knocked off the Minnesota Twins 2-1 in front of 3,328 fans at McKechnie Field thanks to Andy LaRoche's two-run home run and yet another save by Evan Meek, who has three on the season.

The homestand is over...BUT, have no fear - Thursday's road trip is a quick jaunt to Sarasota to face those Reds.

See ya then!

Break up the Buccos

Andy LaRoche's two-run home run has the Pirates up 2-1 after six.

Can anyone beat the Buccos? Anyone? They've dispatched the Dutch...beaten the BoSox...flattelend the Phillies...trumped the Tigers...and now they have the Twins on the ropes.

Friendly City?

I think not!

It's Alive! ALIVE!

The bird, that is, which Pirate centerfielder Nate McLouth bumped into while fielding a double during the second inning at McKechnie Field. We all thought it was dead...but after laying motionless, it took off and flew into the Bradenton air.
Yeah, I cried.
Well, it's 1-0 Twins here in the fourth. That aforementioned double off the bat of Wilson Ramos plated Brian Buscher, and that is where we stand thus far.
Buccos Tom Gorzelanny had control proble,s walking two and hitting one in two innings. But he wiggled out of a jam thanks to a first-inning double play.
Ouside of a Craig Monroe double, the Pirates didn't do much against Francisco Liriano. But third baseman Matt Macri saved a run when he made a diving stab of Andy LaRoche's grounder to keep Monroe on third in the second inning.


Hello, everybody. It's another chilly one here at McKechnie Field, but it is slowly getting warmer, so there is hope.
This is John Lembo, staff writer with The Bradenton Herald, and I will be here for the first of seven - SEVEN! - meetings this spring between the Minnesota Twins and the Pirates.
The lineups:

Denard Span, rf
Alexi Casilla, 2b
Delmon Young, lf
Michael Cuddyer, dh
Brian Buscher, 1b
Wilson Ramos, c
Carlos Gomez, cf
Matt Tolbert, ss
Matt Macri, 3b
Francisco Liriano, p

Another ex-Ray (or should I say, Devil Ray, because he left before the Great Name Change of '08) is back, as Delmon Young suits up for the Twins. Had Minnesota won that one-game playoff for the AL Central title, Young would have been back at the Trop for the Division Series. That would have been interesting...

The Pirates
Nyjer Morgan, lf
Freddy Sanchez, 2b
Nate McLouth, cf
Ryan Doumit, c
Adam LaRoche, 1b
Craig Monroe, rf
Brandon Moss, dh
Andy LaRoche, 3b
Jack Wilson, ss
Tom Gorzelanny, p

A day after resting everyone against the Netherlands, manager John Russell throws tha A team at the Twins, including the LaRoche brothers, who will be mannin the corners.

First pitch in two hours.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Over and Out

The game that didn't count is done.
In an ultra-exhibition game that didn't even count toward spring-training stats - which don't count for anything anyway - the Pirates nipped the Netherlands 5-4 in front of 1,759 brave souls at McKechnie Field.

Game-time temperature was 61 degress, thought it felt more like 59. Real cold. We'll see what happens tomorrow, or shall I say, Wednesday, when the Pirates host the Twins for the first of seven meetings.

Seven. Why? No idea. It's spring training.

This is John Lembo, saying see ya tomorrow at McKechnie Field.

Top five

Garrett Jones likes the Dutch.
A non-roster invitee, Jones has knocked in three runs for the Pittsburgh Pirates, who lead the Netherlands 4-2 after four innings.
With the Pirates lineup sans stars - Ruben Gotay, who started in left field, is a minor-league camper, doesn't have a name on the back of his jersey - Jones is taking advantage of his playing time.
As is Andy Phillips, who doubled in a run, and Craig Monroe, who walked and doubled in his first two at-bats.
And as a write, shortsop Anderson Machado makes a wild, off-balance throw to first that skips past Phillips and plates a run. The Netherlands now trails 4-3.

Netherlands Game

Here come the Dutch!

This is John Lembo, sports writer with The Bradenton Herald, and today should prove interesting at McKechnie Field, where the Pittsburgh Pirates play host to the Netherlands team competing in the World Baseball Classic.

Here are the lineups, and yes, they are some familiar faces for the Netherlands squad:
Eugene Kingsale, rf
Sharlon Shoop, 2b
Randall Simon, 1b
Greg Halman, cf
Sharnol Adriana, dh
Yurendell DeCaster, 3b
Brian Englehardt, lf
Kenley Jansen, c
Hainley Statia, ss
Sidney Ponson, p

Sir Sidney toes the rubber, under the tutelage of pitching coach Burt Blyleven. Simon is a former Pirate perhaps best known for whacking a sausage with a bat during Miller Park's famed Sausage Race. And Kingsale played with the Orioles, Mariners, Padres and Tigers.

Anderson Machado, ss
Luis Cruz, 2b
Craig Monroe, dh
Garrett Jones, rf
Pedro Alvarez, 3b
Andy Phillips, 1b
Jeff Salazar, cf
Ruben Gotay, lf
Erik Kratz, c
Ross Ohlendorf, p

FYI - Kratz holds the record for most career doubles in the history of Division III. And Alvarez is the team's first round draft pick getting plenty of looks this spring. Let's see how he handles third.

Monday, March 2, 2009

They win AGAIN!

Almost saw a triple play today...but what we did see was ANOTHER Pirate win, as the Buccos beat the Reds 2-1 at refrigerated McKechnie Field to improve to 5-1.
Andrew McCutchen had a fine day - he made a nice play on a windblown fly ball hit to left, gunned down the Reds' Paul Janish trying to tag up from third in the seventh, got his first hit of the spring and scored the winning run on Andy Phillips' single in the eighth.

The Pirates return to McKechnie tomorrow to face the Netherlands. Not the all country, but the World Baseball Classic recipient.

Hopefully, they'll bring better weather from Pirate City, where they spent the spring working out.

So long for today. John Lembo, signing out.

Sixth Inning

The Reds own a commanding 1-0 lead over the Pirates, who have just one hit through five full innings of play.

Some good news for the Buccos - Zach Duke threw two scorless innings. That means Duke, Ian Snell, Tom Gorzelanny and Paul Maholm have a 0.00 ERA through eight innings this spring.

Not too shabby.

Catcher Jason Jaramillo, looking to earn a spot on the roster as Ryan Doumit's back up,just threw out Chris Valaika trying to steal second.

Hey man - when it's 1-0, and the crowd is dead, the air is chilled and the Pirates and Reds are playing the first of 150 games this spring, that is as exciting as it gets.

Pirates vs. Reds

Oh, it's a cold one here at McKechnie Field. The press box shutters are drawn in an attempt to keep warm, and one of the Pittsburgh beat writers remembered to bring his yellow and black Steelers knit cap.
But seeing as how the northeastern part of the country has been battered by nearly a foot of snow, we really have no room to complain.
So this is John Lembo, sports writer with The Bradenton Herald, and I will be blogging from today's Grapefruit League game between the Pirates and the Reds.
Let's look at the lineups:

Chris Dickerson, cf
Jeff Keppinger, ss
Jay Bruce, rf
Brandon Phillips, 2b
Edwin Encarnacion, 3b
Jonny Gomes, 1b
Lance Nix, lf
Ryan Hanigan, C
Wes Bankston, dh
Homer Bailey, p

Yes, that's right - Jonny Gomes, formerly the unofficial mascot of the Tampa Bay Rays, is playing first for the Reds. Wonder what kind of reception he will get...

Andrew McCutchen, lf
Freddy Sanchez, 2b
Nate McLouth, cf
Ryan Doumit, dh
Adam LaRoche, 1b
Brandon Moss, rf
Neil Walker, 3b
Jack Wilson, ss
Jason Jaramillo, c
Zach Duke, p

Little different look, with Doumit DHing and Jaramillo, looking to land a job as the team's No.2 catcher, squatting behind the plate. McCutchen and Walker make two Pirate first-round picks in the same lineup.

Sunday, March 1, 2009

The Lineups

Starting to clear up at McKechine. May as well give ya the lineups:

The Tigers:
Curtis Granderson, cf
Placido Polanco, 2b
Gary Sheffield, dh
Brent Clevlen, lf
Mike Hessman, 1b
Ryan Raburn, rf
Brandon Inge, 3b
Matt Treanor, c
Adam Everett, ss
Justin Verlander, p

Former Pirate skipper Jim Leyland brought a nice group for Lakeland. Good thing, too - this is the only meeting this spring between the two clubs.

The Pirates
Nyjer Morgan, lf
Freddy Sanchez, 2b
Nate McLouth, cf
Ryan Doumit, c
Craig Monroe, rf
Ramon Vazquez, dh
Andy LaRoche, 3b
Garrett Jones, 1b
Jack Wilson, ss
Jimmy Barthameir, p

Andy LaRoche, who has battled back spasms this spring, gets the nod today - though his brother, Adam, gets the day off. Monroe is looking to make the Opening Day roster, and gets a shock to up his stock against his old team.

It's a wet one

McKechnie Field is covered by tarp, and most of the Pittsburgh Pirates are lounging in the clubhouse.
I'm John Lembo, sports writer with The Bradenton Herald, and I will be here on this cold, rainy and windy Sunday as the Pirates are set to host the Detroit Tigers at 1:05.
Justin Verlander is throwing for Detroit aginst the Pirates' Jimmy Barthmaeir.
The game is still a go, and according to, the rain should be out of here some time after 11 a.m.
OK, so this is not a perfect day for baseball. But if you haven't boxed up all your heavier clothing, throw some on and head to the ballpark.
I have a hunch good seats will be easy to find.