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By Chad Carlson
Photo Credit:  http://www.burningantsblog.com
After a long, tumultuous 162-game regular season, there are at least a handful of games that each and every team would like to forget about.  For the Pirates, they can add a Spring Training game to the list as well.  The Minnesota Twins shut them out this afternoon, 10-0, on a day when Charlie Morton was almost as ineffective as the Pirates’ offense, which only mustered one hit all day.
Morton surrendered five runs on seven hits through his three innings of work.  He is, without a doubt, expected to be part of the starting rotation in a few weeks, but he certainly struggled today.  His ERA this spring is at 9.00, but hopefully over the next couple weeks leading up to Opening Day, he can put together a string of strong outings to get the confidence level up to par.
The offense was putrid today, no question about it.  Brandon Boggs recorded the only hit for the Bucs, while the team struck out a total of ten times on the day.  Pedro Alvarez and Andrew McCutchen both had the day off, but this was a rough day for everyone across the board…one that the team, and us fans, will love to put in the past.  Pedro did have a pinch-hit appearance today, going 0-1, dropping his average to .167. Ouch.
The Pirates’ lack of efficiency in the fundamental aspects of the game is already a concern for me.  Even though it’s still in Spring Training, this is the time when teams need to clean up their individual games, and right now, the Bucs aren’t doing that.  If this team is going to have any chance at a winning record this season, they need to play fundamentally sound in the field and at the plate. 
Oh yeah, and they need to hit the ball!
Prior to the game today, it was announced that Starling Marte, Gorkys Hernandez, Kyle McPherson, Bryan Morris, and Justin Wilson were optioned to Triple-A Indianapolis.  Marte has been incredible at the plate this spring, but has struggled defensively.  He still has some on-the-field maturation to do, and will do so throughout this year and, depending on that development, may find himself in Pittsburgh by the end of the season.
The Bucs are now 6-9 in Grapefruit League play.  After their second (and last) day off of Spring Training tomorrow, they’ll resume action against the New York Yankees on Tuesday at 7:05pm.
Grapefruit League Record:  6-9
And…
As Always…
Let’s Go Bucs!