Sunday was a pretty excellent day for Bucco fans…or about as good as a day of spring training could possibly be. Plenty of big names were in action at several different locations.
First of all, Jameson Taillon was quite impressive in his big World Baseball Classic start for Team Canada against Team USA. He posted a solid line (4 innings, 4 hit, 1 earned run, 1 walk, 3 strikeouts) and definitely showcased his stuff in front of a giant audience. Taillon–who hasn’t pitched above Double-A (although he has thrown a few big league spring training innings) was throwing an upper-90′s fastball and held a lineup full of MLB All-Stars in check. He struck out Jimmy Rollins on 3 pitches, got Ryan Braun looking on two nasty curves (which made Bucco fans everywhere smile), and also punched out Shane Victorino. He was limited to just four innings because of the WBC’s pitch limit. I don’t think there’s much video of his outing anywhere, but here’s a GIF of Joe Mauer whiffing at some high heat and here’s a fuzzy video of the Braun K. Team USA was able to rally later in the game and get the win, meaning Taillon and Canada are done for the Classic while the USA moves on to the next round.
Meanwhile, Wandy Rodriguez of the Dominican Republic also made a WBC start on Sunday. The stakes were a bit lower (his team had already secured a berth in the next round), but he also posted a solid line (3.1 innings, 3 hits, 1 run, 1 walk, 2 strikeouts, came out due to pitch count) against a potent Puerto Rico lineup. Wandy will likely pitch again later in the week for the Dominican against the USA, Italy, or Puerto Rico again. Jason Grilli of Italy is the only other Bucco remaining in the tournament.
Back in Florida, Gerrit Cole made a start in one of the Bucs’ two split squad games. He faced two over the minimum (although both of those two scored on a homer) in four solid innings against the Orioles, so he’s continuing to look good in spring action. It’s unlikely that strong springs by Cole and Taillon will change their April destinations (Cole AAA, Taillon AA), but they could definitely help build momentum for an earlier promotion than originally planned.
The Bucs won both of their games on Sunday, as Andrew McCutchen and both Sanchez’s (Tony and Gaby) homered against the Twins while Matt Hague had a three hit day against the Orioles. The Bucs are home against the O’s on Monday at 1:05. Jeff Locke will start and 93.7 will have the broadcast.