Blue Jays 8, Pirates 5

Erik Bedard struggled with his control Sunday in a rough spring

training debut with the Pittsburgh Pirates.

The left-hander gave up two runs in two innings in an 8-5 loss

against the Toronto Blue Jays.

Bedard hit the first batter he faced, gave up a double to Travis

Snider, walked two and struck out one.

”Just trying to get my work in, trying to throw strikes,”

Bedard said. ”I threw everything, like I would in the regular

season. It’ll take time. First game.”

Snider was 2 for 4 with 3 RBIs for the Jays. He had a

run-scoring single in the fourth. In the sixth, Snider got two RBIs

with a grounder to reliever Evan Meek.

First baseman Jeff Clement didn’t cover the bag, so Meek had to

outrun Snider for the out. Jonathan Diaz scored from third base and

Anthony Gose scored from second on the play.

”We were sloppy,” Pirates manager Clint Hurdle said. ”Our

awareness wasn’t where it needs to be to play a game – a major

league game, a minor league game or an exhibition. It’s a lack of

focus.”

Bedard signed a one-year, $4.5 million contract in December.

With A.J. Burnett (fractured orbital bone) out until at least early

May, Bedard could be the Pirates’ opening day starter.

”We’re more curious about where (Bedard) is in his first outing

in the regular season than today,” general manager Neal Huntington

said. ”I’ve seen too many veteran pitchers get knocked around in

their spring training debut or their last start of spring training,

and then they find another gear when the season opens.”

The two best seasons of Bedard’s career were 2006 and `07 with

the Baltimore Orioles. He won a total of 28 games with a 3.47 ERA

and averaged 9.3 strikeouts per nine innings. He finished fifth in

the Cy Young voting in 2007.

Bedard has had three operations over the past 10 years,

including shoulder surgery in 2010. Last season, he was out for two

weeks in September due to a sore knee.

His struggles in the second half last season – Bedard won just

one of his final eight starts with the Boston Red Sox – caused some

teams to back away this offseason.

”If he stays healthy, we believe he’s going to pitch well,”

Huntington said. ”He’s not that far removed from being one of the

best starters in the American League.”

Blue Jays left-hander Aaron Laffey had a 1-2-3 first inning. In

the second, he gave up a run on singles by Rod Barajas, Matt Hague

and Chase d’Arnaud.

”I felt free and easy, nice and loose,” Laffey said. ”For the

most part, I kept the ball down and was able to change speeds. I

was pleased with it.”

Laffey signed with Toronto figuring he has a good shot to win a

spot in the starting rotation. But he would be willing to take a

bullpen job if it keeps him from going to Triple-A Las Vegas.

”It’s all about being here in the big leagues,” Laffey said.

”I feel like I’m a big league pitcher with big league stuff. I

think I’ve proven I can be consistent at this level.”

Notes: Play was halted briefly in the bottom of the sixth inning

when a gray cat scampered across the field behind home plate. The

cat jumped into the stands and disappeared under the left field

bleachers. … Blue Jays reliever Jesse Litsch will be shut down

for six weeks after having an arthroscopic procedure to clean an

infection out of his right shoulder. Litsch, who’s expected to be a

middle/long reliever this year, was released from the hospital

Saturday. ”I talked to him and he is very upbeat,” manager John

Farrell said. Litsch spent time on the disabled list last season

due to an impingement in his shoulder. … Right-hander Henderson

Alvarez had been scheduled to start Sunday for the Blue Jays, but

he was pushed back to Monday for extra rest. … Barajas went 2 for

2 with two RBIs. Nick Evans hit a solo homer for the Pirates. …

Pirates infielder Josh Harrison was scratched as a precaution after

being hit on the elbow by a pitch on Saturday. X-rays were

negative. … Pirates right-hander Charlie Morton, who had hip

surgery in October, will pitch Wednesday in an intrasquad game. …

The Pirates will play the Baltimore Orioles at 7 p.m. Monday.