Rotation hopeful Locke able to limit hometown team
New Hampshire native doesn't record strikeout, but stays in mix for fifth-starter spot
FORT MYERS, Fla. -- Facing Jacoby Ellsbury and Dustin Pedroia was a rush for Pirates left-hander Jeff Locke, who grew up with a share of Red Sox season tickets in nearby New Hampshire. Winning a job with the Bucs this spring, likely, would be the bigger rush.
Locke went four innings and gave up three runs, two earned, in the Pirates' 5-3 road win over the Red Sox on Saturday. He gave up seven hits and one walk, but kept the damage to a minimum without recording any strikeouts.
"Obviously I don't have anything to say about the decisions that are going to be made here in the next week," Locke said. "You know, because it's not my call. But I'll tell you what, if I am part of that or if I do find my way into that, I'll be the best Jeff Locke I can be. And if not, I'll try and be the first guy up there when need be. I just want to do anything I can to help out the club."
While it's a boon to Locke that he could pitch in relief or as a starter, pitching coach Ray Searage said the team likes Locke as a starter.
"We'd like to have depth in the rotation," Searage said. "God forbid anything happens to one of these guys, we need that depth, we got it with him. We've got it with [Kyle] McPherson. Those guys are both vying for that fifth spot. … He's only making our decision tougher by the way he goes out there and presents himself."
Facing the Red Sox, who fielded most of their regulars, was something the kid in Locke can appreciate -- and also a solid test as the regular season approaches.
"Absolutely, it's kind of a rush out there," Locke said. "For me growing up, being a Red Sox fan and now getting to step on the field with the guys I was watching play when I was in high school, and they were doing all the great things, it's a lot of fun to go out there and compete against them."
Flu-like symptoms keep McCutchen back home
FORT MYERS, Fla. -- Andrew McCutchen was supposed to make the trip from Bradenton to Fort Myers on Saturday for a game against the Red Sox, but flu-like symptoms kept the Pirates outfielder back at home base.
McCutchen last played Thursday when he went 0-for-3 against the Orioles. He has two home runs this spring, but otherwise hasn't done exceedingly well at the plate, hitting .194/.293/.389 in Grapefruit League play.
• Vin Mazzaro stuck out five of six in his two perfect innings in Saturday's 5-3 win over the Red Sox. "All out of the windup, good quality fastballs, good location, nice sliders, and he did a heck of a job," Pirates pitching coach Ray Searage said. "Was very impressive. See what happens. You know, another twist. Here we go. But it's good, it's good to have these tough decisions, and I'm very happy for him, really happy."
• Tony Watson's perfect inning impressed Searage, as well. "He's more confident and more poised out there on the mound and he's got a better idea what he wants to do," Searage said. "It's like your sons are growing up right in front of you and then they talk about certain things, and you're like, 'Hey, that was smart.'"
• Pirates first baseman Matt Curry was involved in an odd double play in the ninth inning. The Red Sox were rallying, with two on and one out. Curry dropped a pop bunt near the third-base line, but fired on to third and then the throw to second completed a rally-killing double play. Had the batter, Blake Swihart, not bunted, an infield fly could have been called. The bunt prevents an infield fly call. "An infield fly is a fair fly ball [not including a line drive nor an attempted bunt]," reads MLB's official rules. The game ended on a strikeout one batter later.
• Pirates manager Clint Hurdle spent Saturday at the team's Minor League complex instead of traveling to Fort Myers for the game against the Red Sox -- a planned decision.