Beimel, Olsen return to action against O's
Left-handers are both trying to get ready for Opening Day
SARASOTA, Fla. -- Left-handers Joe Beimel and Scott Olsen each moved one significant step closer toward being ready for Opening Day by each tossing one inning in the Pirates' 8-2 loss to the Orioles on Monday.
Beimel pitched in the seventh and Olsen followed him in the eighth after the Pirates finally cleared the two pitchers to return to the mound. Beimel (left forearm soreness) and Olsen (left hamstring strain) were each sidelined for varying lengths of time earlier in Spring Training.
The box score would indicate that things didn't go so smoothly for Beimel, a non-roster invitee who is poised to be the Pirates' primary left-handed reliever. Beimel, however, was more than satisfied with the outing.
"It felt amazing," Beimel said. "It really did. It might not have looked like it but I felt like everything was coming out pretty good. I was missing up a little bit, but for the first outing, I was actually pretty excited about it."
He allowed four hits -- including a homer on the first pitch he threw -- and three runs (one earned) in the frame. Beimel also struck out two. The length of the inning allowed Beimel to mix in a few off-speed pitches after he felt good with his fastball command. And with more than two weeks remaining before Opening Day, the lefty has no concerns about the limited time left to get in his work.
"I just have to fine-tune things from here," Beimel said. "I think stuff-wise, I felt like the ball was coming out pretty good. That's usually what you have to build up to. I think I'm right on track."
Olsen needed only 11 pitches (seven of which were strikes) to get through the eighth. He retired the first two batters on a total of four pitches before serving up a homer to Nick Green in the eighth. Olsen then allowed a triple before ending the inning on his own nice defensive play.
"For the most part, he kept the ball down," manager Clint Hurdle said.
With a successful one-inning appearance, the Pirates will now begin the process of stretching Olsen out, so that he can make every effort to re-enter the rotation competition. He is likely to throw two innings his next time out.
McDonald to be skipped in Bucs' rotation
SARASOTA, Fla. -- The Pirates will skip James McDonald's turn in the rotation this week to allow the right-hander continued time to recover from left side discomfort.
McDonald exited Friday's game with soreness in his left side after pitching just two innings against the Rays. The Pirates issued a statement on Monday saying that McDonald is feeling better, but did not say whether the right-hander may be at risk to miss any additional starts.
By releasing minimal information about the severity of McDonald's injury, the Pirates have given no indication on whether the club is concerned about the ailment affecting McDonald's ability to get ready by Opening Day. McDonald, who is one of the main pieces in the Pirates' regular-season rotation, has made three starts so far this spring.
Presley sets goals for Triple-A stop
SARASOTA, Fla. -- Alex Presley had little to say minutes after being told he had been optioned to Triple-A. The news stung that much to the outfielder, who hasn't lost the taste of last season's September callup.
2010 Spring Training - Pittsburgh Pirates
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Presley arrived in Bradenton last month hoping to make a push for a spot on the Pirates' bench as a backup outfielder. As it turned out, the organization's most recent Minor League Player of the Year was among the first outfielders cut from camp.
"It's tougher when you've actually been up there and you're not going back," Presley said. "You don't want to be anywhere else. It's definitely a motivator knowing what you could have or what you're going to have at some point. I'll just move forward to get to where I want to be."
Presley will head to Triple-A Indianapolis to begin the season, and he'll arrive there with some specific goals. Atop that list are plate discipline and making better use of his speed. With the latter, the Pirates specifically want to see Presley more confident in his attempts to steal bases.
"He has speed to impact the game on the bases," general manager Neal Huntington said. "Base stealing is something we definitely have to refine. Just the confidence. He can get the good read. He can get the good jump. There's just a little bit of hesitation that we can work out."
Presley swiped 14 bases last year but was also thrown out nine times. He was successful once in three attempts this spring.
"I just need to get to where I can steal a base at any time," said Presley, who finished 2-for-17 in Grapefruit League play. "The speed is there. It's just a matter of getting it done and finding a way. And I'll just continue to do what I did last year and build off that as much as possible."
Seven Bucs are destined for Indianapolis
SARASOTA, Fla. -- Of the 10 players cut from Major League camp, at least seven are headed to Triple-A Indianapolis to begin the season.
Daniel Moskos, Gorkys Hernandez, Alex Presley and Tony Watson were optioned to Triple-A on Monday morning and will be joined on that International League club by Andrew Lambo, Brian Friday and Chase d'Arnaud, all of whom have been reassigned to Minor League camp.
The Pirates optioned another trio of players -- Aaron Thompson, Ramon Aguero and Jeff Locke -- to Double-A, though general manger Neal Huntington noted that Thompson and/or Locke could begin the season in Indianapolis depending upon how the rest of the pitching assignments shake out.
Huntington issued a few other position clarifications, too, shortly after cuts were made. Lambo, he said, will play primarily as a corner outfielder, with most of his time coming in right. He might make an occasional appearance at first base, though the Pirates are mostly intrigued about Lambo's defensive ability in the outfield.
"Nobody threw the ball better than him from the outfield," manager Clint Hurdle said. "Very accurate, very strong arm."
Added Huntington: "It was enjoyable to watch the reads off the bat and the routes that he took. Obviously, his throws this spring were eye-opening. He threw the ball with velocity, but he also threw the ball with tremendous accuracy."
Hernandez and Presley have both been used in center field as they've climbed up the Minor League system, though Hernandez is now expected to get the majority of playing time at the position. Presley will play primarily in left, though all of the outfielders are going to move around to a certain degree.
In the infield, d'Arnaud will begin the season as Indianapolis' shortstop, while Friday will play second.
Catcher Ryan Doumit (right oblique strain) took some dry swings on Monday. The fact that Doumit already felt well enough to start swinging a bat is an encouraging sign. ... Doumit and fellow catcher Chris Snyder (back soreness) will be re-evaluated on Wednesday, the team said in a statement. The Pirates are expected to update the status of the two catchers after that next evaluation. ... Charlie Morton threw four innings in a Mionr League game on Monday. The right-hander allowed three runs, all on a home run. Morton walked the two hitters right before allowing the blast. Morton threw 63 pitches in the outing. ... With two more hits on Monday, catcher Jason Jaramillo is now 8-for-15 this spring. He has driven in four. ... Infielder Pedro Ciriaco, who continues to make a strong push for a bench spot, is 10-for-27 in Grapefruit League games after tallying another two hits on Monday.
Jenifer Langosch is a reporter for MLB.com. Read her blog, By Gosh, It's Langosch, and follow her on Twitter @LangoschMLB. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.