BRADENTON, Fla. -- In Spring Training, every pitcher works on command, pitchouts, pickoffs, fielding the position.Jared Hughes also works on his mean. The 26-year-old Southern Californian right-hander is one of the most affable, gregarious players in Pirate City. But not when he is standing on a mound with a baseball in his hand.
"I do get pumped up," Hughes said soon after his Tuesday turn to throw batting practice. "During the season, I feed off adrenaline. In batting practice, seems like everyone is trying to 'calm down.'"I'm not one of those people. I pitch well during the season when I'm really pumped, so why do anything different now? I try to be aggressive, attacking the zone." The 6-foot-7, 235-pound hurler made his big league debut last September, following his sixth season in the Pirates' farm system. Hughes fanned 10 in 11 innings, covering 12 appearances, while allowing nine hits and five runs.
Kensing on shelf with abdominal strain
BRADENTON, Fla. -- Logan Kensing became the first significant casualty of the Pirates' Spring Training on Tuesday, when the non-roster right-hander felt a twinge in his abdominal area while warming up for his batting-practice session, which was quickly scratched.Kensing originally was said to have suffered tightness in his right groin muscle. But shortly after he had said that he would "rest for a couple of days and test it out again" the diagnosis was revised to a more serious strain of the lower-right abdomen. Kensing now will take it easy for two weeks, then be re-evaluated. The 29-year-old Texan is trying to work his way back to the Major Leagues for the first time since 2009, when he made a total of 32 relief appearances between the Marlins and the Nationals. Kensing missed 2010 with shoulder surgery and began 2011 pitching in the independent Atlantic League before being signed by the Yankees to a Minor League contract and making 21 appearances for Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre.
Chase and Travis d'Arnaud will have a reunion weekend when the Pirates and Blue Jays kick off their Grapefruit League schedules with home-and-home exhibitions on Saturday and Sunday. It won't be quite a rare get-together, however. During the offseason, Chase lives with his younger (by two years) brother, a catcher in his first Major League camp after winning Eastern League MVP honors last season. Rudy Owens and Justin Wilson, two prized left-handed prospects, both lit up pitching coach Ray Searage's eyes in batting practice, showing vast improvement over their first times out. Searage's message was the same to both: "You found the cure; now don't get complacent." If breaking bats is any indication, Jeff Karstens was in fine form on Tuesday, cracking the lumber swung by Pedro Alvarez and Garrett Jones. Unlike some teams that seem fixated on mph readings, the Pirates do not put the radar gun on pitchers throwing bullpen sessions or batting practice. "Right now, some of them still aren't where they're gonna be," manager Clint Hurdle said of the unreliability of early speeds. "You'll see velocity spikes from just about everybody from now to three, four weeks later."
Tom Singer is a reporter for MLB.com and writes an MLBlog Change for a Nickel. He can also be found on Twitter @Tom_Singer. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.