Found February 24, 2013 on Fox Sports Tennessee:
BRADENTON, Fla. (AP) -- James McDonald is hardly concerned about the crispness of his fastball or the break on his curveball. And for that matter, the Pittsburgh Pirates' right-hander isn't overly focused on controlling an opponent's running game at the moment. All McDonald really wants out of spring training is to put the ball where it's supposed to go following a second half last season when the only place the ball seemed to go was the outfield and beyond. McDonald took his tentative first steps toward putting the final two months of last year behind him, pitching a pair of scoreless innings Sunday in a 9-2 win over the Atlanta Braves. The 28-year-old walked one, struck out one and settled down in the second inning after needing 21 pitches to get through the first. He used just eight pitches to get three outs in the second, working a little faster than he's used to in an effort to keep his defense involved. "When you slow the pace of the game up, it slows your defense up," McDonald said. "If you keep the game going, the pitches come a little faster, guys will be on their toes a little more and I'll probably be a little better." Things certainly couldn't be much worse than the second half of last year, when he went 3-5 with a 7.52 ERA. The precision that helped him get off to a 10-3 start evaporated as the Pirates found themselves in the clutches of an actual postseason race. Manager Clint Hurdle believes McDonald is the efficient guy who dazzled at times in the spring and early summer, not the one who limped to the finish. An offseason that saw McDonald welcome his first child -- a baby girl -- helped put things in perspective. And with catcher Russell Martin keeping him on schedule, McDonald shook off a first-inning walk to Jason Heyward -- who also hit a towering foul ball that traveled well over 400 feet -- to get out of trouble. "When it was up and away or up, I was able to make an adjustment and get it back down in the zone," McDonald said. "That's a big thing." Clint Barmes went 2 for 2 with a two-run homer for the Pirates. Non-roster invitee Brad Hawpe added a two-run single. Heyward hit a solo home run for the Braves. Julio Teheran struck out two in two innings but Atlanta fell to 0-3 in Grapefruit League play after the Pirates had their way with the Braves' relievers. Teheran and Sean Gilmartin -- who pitched two scoreless innings of his own -- are in competition for fifth starter spot. Manager Fredi Gonzalez all but called it a draw and said the team plans to send the 22-year-olds out there in tandem at least once more. The thing that impressed Gonzalez was that neither pitcher had great command but remained effective. "(Teheran) pitched good and his stuff wasn't like I saw in the Dominican last time, which was good," Gonzalez said. "He got through it. Most of the time you've got to go out and pitch without your good stuff." NOTES: Atlanta OF B.J. Upton went 2 for 3 with a double. CF Jordan Schafer added two hits for the Braves. ... New Pittsburgh closer Jason Grilli, who got the win, struck out two and walked one in his first appearance of the spring. ... Atlanta plays Miami on Monday. Kris Medlen, who will start on opening day, is slated to work two innings for the Braves. ... Newly signed Pittsburgh reliever Jose Contreras, recovering from Tommy John surgery on his right elbow, said he has no timetable for a return. The 41-year-old Contreras signed with Pittsburgh on Saturday. ... Pirates CF Andrew McCutchen went hitless in two at-bats.

Jeff Locke Pitches Three Shutout Innings in Spring Opener Win

Final: Pirates 3, Rays 2 (box) WP: Jeff Locke (1-0, 0.00 ERA) LP: J.D. Martin (0-1, 4.50 ERA) SV: Brooks Brown (1, 0.00 ERA) Jeff Locke started for the Bucs and pitched three scoreless innings. He struck out one, walked one, and didn’t allow a hit. Starling Marte went 1 for 2 with a single and a stolen base in the fourth inning. He eventually scored on an RBI groundout by Garrett...

Clint Barmes is on my list.

I do not appreciate Barmes' contribution to the game today. FYI, tweets like this are welcome: #SocksUp! JONNY! @braveslove — Michelle(@uscfox) February 24, 2013 Tweets like this are not: @braveslove he has given up quite a few homers the past year. — Robert Baker (@baseballfan30) February 24, 2013 1. I'm blaming the wind. 2. Sometimes it's hard for me to remember...

Pirates Get Favorable Rankings in the Baseball Prospectus Top 101

  Gerrit Cole was the third best prospect in the Baseball Prospectus rankings. Photo: Wilbur Miller Baseball Prospectus released their top 101 prospects today, and the Pittsburgh Pirates had five players on the list. The highest ranked player was Gerrit Cole, who came in as the third best prospect and the top pitching prospect. This is the highest Cole has been ranked in any of...

Saturday notes: Bucs win Grapefruit opener

The Pirates beat the Rays 3-2 this afternoon to open up Grapefruit League play…so for the first time in 2013, you can raise it! (Right?) Jeff Locke pitched three strong scoreless innings. He allowed no hits and the Rays didn’t even get a ball out of the infield against him. Jeff had one strikeout and got seven ground ball outs. He allowed one walk, but picked off the runner...

Monday notes: Bucs drop first game

The Pirates fell to the Twins 5-4 on Monday, ending their quest for an undefeated Grapefruit League season. Oh well. They’ll be back at it on Tuesday  at 1:05 against the Orioles at McKechnie Field. will have the audio feed for the game. The lineup and pitchers have already been announced; Wandy Rodriguez will get the start. Notable events from Monday’s loss: Kyle McPherson...

Jose Tabata Homers in 5-4 Loss to Twins

Final: Twins 5, Pirates 4 (box) WP: Cole De Vries (1-0, 0.00 ERA) LP: Kris Johnson (0-1, 9.00 ERA) SV: Pedro Hernandez (1, 0.00 ERA) Kyle McPherson got the nod on the hill today for the Bucs and pitched two scoreless innings. He gave up one hit, which turned out to be the first hit given up by Pirates’ starters this spring. Pirates’ starting pitchers have still yet to give up...

The Bronze Titan, Jose Contreras, is still going

It seems like a hundred years ago that Jose Contreras swam up from Cuba to play for the Yankees. Fidel Castro was still composing sentences. Wasn't Harry Truman the president? The Yankees had money to spend. Ahh, those were the days...Back then, any mystery man on the international scene was predestined to play in New York. It was a given that Old George would capture every back...

Pirates Sign Jose Contreras

The Pittsburgh Pirates have signed right-handed pitcher Jose Contreras on a minor league deal, with an invitation to Spring Training. He will report to Pirates training camp on Sunday. The 41-year-old native of Cuba had off-season elbow surgery and will be rehabbing during Spring Training. Contreras has a 78-67 career record in 292 games, 175 of those as a starter. The ten-year veteran...

Martinez wants more clean sheets

Stand-in skipper Joe Ledley scored twice as Celtic cruised to a 5-0 win over SPL bottom club Dundee at Celtic Park. Ledley scored once in each half, while James Forrest and Dylan McGeouch were also on target and Gary Hooper netted for the first time in six matches as the hosts extended their lead at the top of the table to 21 points. The Dark Blues thought they had taken the lead...

Pittsburgh Pirates Sign Former Phillie Jose Contreras To Minor League Deal

Tonight, it was announced that former Phillies relief pitcher Jose Contreras had signed a minor-league deal with the Pittsburgh Pirates. The minor league contract includes an invite to Bradenton, Florida, where the Pirates' spring training camp is located. Contreras, 41, suffered a season-ending injury last June when he had a...

Draft Prospect Watch: Week Two Recap

The second weekend of the college baseball season has come to a close and we saw some big games from the top draft-eligible third baseman on Saturday and Sunday. For the most part, it was a good weekend for the players currently rated at the top of the college draft class. Mark Appel and Sean Manaea showed why they will likely go well before the Pirates make their first selection...
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