BRADENTON, Fla. (AP) Gregory Polanco homered for the second straight day and Neil Walker hit a two-run double Saturday, as the Pittsburgh Pirates beat a Toronto Blue Jays split squad 8-3.
Polanco hit a two-run shot in the first inning off left-hander Randy Wolf. Andrew McCutchen had two hits, including a double, and scored a run.
”I didn’t play winter ball or do anything all offseason, so I had to work to get my timing back,” Polanco said. ”I feel good now.”
Daric Barton and Danny Valencia each hit a solo home run off Pirates right-hander Charlie Morton. Munenori Kawasaki had an RBI double.
Morton worked six innings and gave up three runs on six hits and two walks.
In his Blue Jays debut, Wolf threw 2 2-3 innings and allowed four runs on four hits. He walked two and struck out two.
Wolf signed a minor league contract with Toronto on March 16. The 15-year veteran pitched briefly in the majors last year with the Miami Marlins.
Blue Jays: Wolf, 38, has made only six starts in the majors over the past three years, but he is not ready to retire. He will begin the season at Triple-A Buffalo. ”The way I feel now physically, I have no doubt I can get hitters out,” Wolf said. ”I have to start all over again and I understand that I almost have to overachieve. This is an opportunity to pitch and to show that I’m better than I was last year.” Last season, Wolf pitched in six games with the Miami Marlins and went 1-3 with a 5.26 ERA. He also spent time in the minors with the Baltimore Orioles and Los Angeles Angels.
Pirates: Morton was not bothered by the tape-measure home run he served up on his first pitch to Barton in the first inning. ”I was trying to steal a strike,” Morton said. ”I grooved it and he crushed it.” Morton, who had hip surgery in late September, will be able to start the season on time. ”I don’t think one more start would hurt, but I feel ready to go,” he said.
Blue Jays: Johan Santana, who tore his achilles tendon in June while rehabbing a shoulder injury, is on track to start throwing off a mound in mid-April. Santana has been tossing on flat ground since beginning a throwing program March 3.
Pirates: C Francisco Cervelli tweaked his right hand while diving back to third base in the sixth inning, but remained in the game.
MAKING THE CUT
Pirates: Although he has struggled at the plate, INF Jung Ho Kang is a lock to be on the opening-day roster. Kang is batting .129 and played in a handful of minor league games last week to work on his swing. ”He’s not the only player who’s struggling statistically in spring training right now, whether it’s across baseball or within our camp,” GM Neal Huntington said. ”We’ve seen some really good things in (fewer) than 30 plate appearances. The sample size is ridiculously small. We like the bat speed, we love the power.” Kang hit .356 with 40 home runs last season in the Korea Baseball Organization.
With Barton at first base in the third inning, Dioner Navarro flew out. RF Polanco dropped the ball as he transferred it out of his glove, and Barton went to second base without tagging. Unaware it was ruled a catch, Barton was out on the back end of a 9-5-3 double play.
Blue Jays: LHP Mark Buehrle will make his fourth start Sunday against the Baltimore Orioles. In his last outing, Buehrle worked seven innings against the Tampa Bay Rays and gave up his first three runs this spring.
Pirates: RHP Stolmy Pimentel, who’s on the bubble for a bullpen job, will pitch Sunday against the Atlanta Braves. Pimentel, who’s out of minor league options, has a 6.75 ERA in seven outings this spring.