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By Chad Carlson

Photo Credit:  http://www.piratesgab.com/

Thank goodness these games don’t count. The Pirates just keep losing games this spring. Today, they fell to Ryan Doumit and the Minnesota Twins, 11-6 at McKechnie Field.

Unfortunately for the Pirates, another one of their starting pitchers had a rough outing. Today, it was James McDonald who was touched up, this time by the Minnesota Twins. J-Mac was slammed for 10 runs on 7 hits and 7 walks through 3.2 innings. 7 walks! He also gave up two homeruns on the day, while only striking out one batter.

I feel like I said these same types of things earlier in the week about Charlie Morton, but this is not the direction we want our starting pitchers to be headed. McDonald pitched incredibly solid when he first came to Pittsburgh from the Los Angeles Dodgers; slowly but surely, however, he has declined over the past couple seasons. Today’s outing, one of his last (if not his last) of Spring Training, went just about as terribly as possible.

On the offensive side of the ball, the Bucs managed six runs on twelve hits, even though the game’s outcome had quickly been decided early in the game. Pedro Alvarez was the only everyday Pirate to have more than one hit. Yes, Pedro Alvarez had two hits today. He also struck out twice. Still, though, for a guy who had four hits total coming into today, this is big news. Garrett Jones and Neil Walker each had a hit and an RBI in a losing effort. We can’t forget about the impact these two players can have if they’re swinging the bat well. Jones platooning at first base with Casey McGehee could provide some much needed power, but he’s had a relatively quiet spring.

In addition to the on-the-field action, the Bucs made some other news today as well. First of all, Neal Huntington announced that Charlie Morton will begin the 2012 regular season next week on the 15-day disabled list. Chuck, of course, had hip surgery in October, and has been a week or so behind the rest of the starting pitching staff. Even though he struggled last night, the Bucs’ coaches insist that he’s been progressing nicely. Still, with Morton on the DL, there is yet another spot on the Pirates’ pitching rotation open. It’ll be interesting to see who will fill in.

The Pirates also sent four more players to the minors today, including Nick Evans, Jake Fox, Eric Fryer, and Ryota Igarashi. None of these players were expected to make the big club to begin the season, though each of them had positive moments this spring. If last year is any indication, the Bucs will need guys from Indianapolis and Altoona to step up in case of fatigue and/or injury this year.

With the loss today, the Bucs fell to 8-17 in Grapefruit League play. Ugh! I know the wins and losses don’t matter at this point, but still, it’s getting a little embarrassing. Let’s at least get into double digits in wins! They’ll face the Tampa Bay Rays tomorrow at 1:05pm.

Grapefruit League Record: 8-17

And…

As Always…

Let’s Go Bucs!