BRADENTON, Fla. -- This one was a little harder for Erik Bedard to shrug off, to minimize. Nonetheless, the taciturn left-hander gave it a shot."They missed a lot of swings early. Guess because of the sun," Bedard said after holding the Orioles hitless for four innings in the twilight of a McKechnie Field night game, and blanking them on one hit for 5 2/3 frames. "I threw strikes and changed speeds," the Pirates' Opening Day starter added. "I threw more off-speed pitches to be better for the season, since I know the fastball is there."
Fortunately for both Bedard and the Pirates, he gets paid to pitch, not to pontificate. More important than his word count is his pitch count, which on Monday reached 79 as the Orioles started to knock him around. Six of the last seven men he faced got hits, although they added up to only one earned run.When Bedard ran out of gas, he didn't just roll to a stop, but smacked the wall. "I was thinking of getting my pitch count in, and started to miss some," Bedard said. "Give them credit: They hit the ball."
Pittsburgh fans can get a sneak preview of the '12 Buccos on Wednesday, April 4, when the team's pre-Opening Day workout at PNC Park will be open to the public. The left-field gates (off General Robinson Street) will be open at 2:30 in the afternoon for the no-admission charge event, with the Bucs expected to go through drills from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. The Pirates used their Opening Day lineup for the third time, and the second time including starting pitcher Erik Bedard. They are 0-3 in those games out of an overall Grapefruit League record of 8-14. Bearing in mind that a lot of exhibitions are decided by late substitutes who do not figure to be on the Major League team, had they been all six-inning games the Bucs would be 10-8-4. That's a reflection of the generally strong showing by their starting pitchers. The Buccos Bracket is down to Jason Grilli (Ohio State) versus Andrew McCutchen (Kansas) and Jeff Karstens (Kentucky) versus A.J. Burnett (Louisville). A.J. Burnett will toss another simulated game -- his second -- on Tuesday, while the Pirates are playing the Phillies in Clearwater. Kevin Correia and Joel Hanrahan both pitched in a camp game at Pirate City on Monday. Correia worked six innings while reaching his target of 100 pitches before leaving Florida (he made 101). Interestingly, the righty logged triple-figures only three times in 26 regular-season starts last year. Hanrahan had one 14-pitch inning.
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.