Pittsburgh Pirates' Jordy Mercer, center, slides safely into home plate after Toronto Blue Jays pitcher Rob Rasmussen, right, threw a wild pitch, as home plate umpire Will Little, left, makes the call during the second inning of a spring training basebal
The Canadian Press, Nathan Denette
March 04, 2015

BRADENTON, Fla. (AP) Marcus Stroman looked sharp in his first spring training outing and Kevin Pillar hit an RBI double Wednesday as the Toronto Blue Jays beat the Pittsburgh Pirates 4-1.

Stroman worked the first 1 2-3 innings and allowed an unearned run on two hits. The right-hander struck out one and threw a wild pitch.

''It was just good to get back out there and compete against another team,'' Stroman said. ''It was a little rough in the first inning, but my body and my arm feel great. I was pretty pleased with it.''

Pirates right-hander Gerrit Cole allowed a run on one hit in two innings. Cole walked one batter and struck out three.

Vance Worley, who is vying for the No. 5 spot in the Pirates' rotation, gave up two runs over two innings.

Pirates third baseman Josh Harrison left the game in the first inning due to left ankle discomfort. Harrison tweaked the ankle while running the bases. The injury did not appear to be serious as Harrison walked off the field.


Blue Jays: Last year, Stroman had a 13.09 ERA in five spring training outings. He expects much better results this time around. ''I struggled all of last spring,'' Stroman said. ''I wanted to make the team so bad and I was doing more than I had to do. Now, I feel a lot different. I'm focused, I'm relaxed.''

Pirates: Cole used the outing to get acclimated with catcher Francisco Cervelli, who was traded to the Pirates over the winter.

''I told (Cervelli) I wasn't going to shake him off,'' Cole said. ''I was just going to see how he wanted to do my stuff so he could get a feel for how he wants to call a game. I think it'll be that way for probably a while. He'll get some information, I'll get some information and then we'll sit down (to talk).''


Pirates: OF Mel Rojas Jr. was back in the lineup Wednesday after being stuck in the left shoulder by a fly ball as he tried to make a diving catch on Tuesday. ''I was hurt at the time, but I'm fine now,'' Rojas said. ''It hit my glove, then it hit my shoulder.''


Blue Jays: Backup catcher Josh Thole, who has served at the personal catcher for knuckleballer R.A. Dickey, likely will be squeezed out by Russell Martin. Gibbons said it's possible Martin could catch all of Dickey's starts this season. ''We need Russell on the field,'' Gibbons said. ''We brought him here to do that. He's not going to play 162 (games), but we're a better team with him out there.''

With Dioner Navarro as the primary backup, there might not be room for Thole on the roster.


Jung Ho Kang fielded grounders at third base for the first time during pregame drills. Kang played shortstop in Korea and the Pirates started him out there in camp to ease his transition. Hurdle said Kang eventually will also work at second base after he gets comfortable at third.


Blue Jays: Toronto will get its first look at defending AL East champion Baltimore on Thursday. Last season, the Blue Jays went 8-11 against the Orioles and finished 13 games back in the division.

Pirates: LHP Francisco Liriano, the likely opening-day starter, will make his spring training debut. Liriano talked with the Kansas City Royals and Boston Red Sox in the offseason, then re-signed with Pittsburgh on a three-year, $39 million contract. It's the largest free-agent deal in Pirates history.

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