McCutchen gets 2nd spring hit, a solo homer, in Pirates win
BRADENTON, Fla. (AP) Andrew McCutchen got just his second hit of the spring - a long solo home run - and the Pittsburgh Pirates rallied for a 4-3 victory against the Tampa Bay Rays on Friday.
Leading off the fourth inning, McCutchen ripped a line drive to left off Rays right-hander Jake Odorizzi. It was McCutchen's second hit in 15 plate appearances.
''I'll be ready to go,'' McCutchen said. ''I've been ready to go.''
Odorizzi gave up three hits, walked two and struck out three in 3 1/3 innings.
The Pirates scored three runs in the eighth with Gift Ngoepe's two-out, RBI single giving them the lead.
Taylor Motter, a Rays infield prospect who hit 14 homers last season at Triple-A Durham, tied the game in the bottom of the fourth with a blast off Tony Watson. In the sixth, Motter's two-out double scored Curt Casali.
Rays: Odorizzi said the homer to McCutchen came on a breaking ball.
''I think that's the first time I gave up a curveball for a home run in the big leagues,'' Odorizzi said. ''Not a bad guy to give one up to. I went back to it the next pitch. I'm trying to work on it.''
Pirates: Right-hander Juan Nicasio worked three scoreless innings, giving up three hits, one walk and striking out three.
''I'm feeling strong,'' Nicasio said. ''I was feeling better in the third. My breaking ball is better.''
The Pirates signed Nicasio to a $3 million, one-year deal this offseason expecting him to be a reliever, but he's being stretched out in case someone in the rotation is injured or ineffective early in the season.
''I'm trying to remember what I was doing before, when I was a starter,'' said Nicasio, who was in Colorado's rotation from 2011-14. ''I think I can switch very quick. Today, they said I would throw three or four innings, so I did my job. I don't know where it's going to go from here.''
For the third year in a row, left-hander Francisco Liriano will be the Pirates' opening day starter. Manager Clint Hurdle opted for Liriano over right-hander Gerrit Cole, who was slowed at the start of camp by rib inflammation.
Cole is scheduled to start his first Grapefruit League game on Sunday. He won't ramp up to six innings of work until the end of spring training.
''Since I've been here, we've never started a pitcher in the major leagues who hasn't gone six innings and 100 pitches at some point in spring training,'' Hurdle said.
Rays: RHP David Carpenter, 30, who was waived last week by the Atlanta Braves, signed a minor league contract with an invitation to big league camp. He was inactive for about a week, but threw a bullpen session on Friday
''It's a little confusing why he's available, but we'll take a chance on him,'' Rays manager Kevin Cash said. ''Big arm. He could put himself in the mix here.''
Last season, Carpenter put up a 4.01 ERA in 30 relief outings with the New York Yankees and Washington Nationals.
Pirates: With 3B Jung Ho Kang set to open the season on the disabled list, the Pirates signed INF David Freese to a $3 million, one-year contract.
Freese, 32, spent the past two seasons with the Los Angeles Angels. In 2015, he played in 121 games and hit .257 with 14 home runs and a .743 OPS.
''He adds a very talented bat to our club and is an experienced winner,'' general manager Neal Huntington said. ''He's going to bounce around the field for us and gives us an insurance policy until Jung Ho is ready to go.''
Freese is expected to be in Pirates' camp on Saturday morning.
Pitcher Jesse Biddle was designated for assignment.
Rays: 1B/OF Steve Pearce (tight right calf) began running on a treadmill and hopes to be ready to play in games next week.
''It's gradually improving, but we've got to be careful,'' Cash said. "I'm glad he wants to get the at-bats (next week), but we want him healthy and ready to go instead of worrying about getting an extra five or six at-bats.''
Rays: Derek Jeter, Luis Tiant and Jose Cardenal will accompany the Rays to Havana for their game March 22 against the Cuban national team.
Rays: LHP Matt Moore will start Saturday against the New York Yankees.
Pirates: LHP Jeff Locke will make his third spring start Saturday against the Detroit Tigers. Last week, Locke gave up four runs on four hits in two innings against the Tigers.