The Pirates tied the Red Sox after nine innings this afternoon to close the curtain on McKechnie Field and their home games for this spring training. After the game, Clint Hurdle announced that Juan Nicasio will be in the rotation and Ryan Vogelsong will start the season in the bullpen. This was predicted by us at North Shore Nine for about three weeks now. The rotation for the Cards series is now set—Liriano on Opening Day Sunday, Niese on Tuesday and Nicasio on Wednesday.
There’s still some questions on a couple final bench spots, but one thing that’s for sure is Andrew McCutchen is ready for the season and man, his power has been on display this month. He belted his sixth home run of spring, a two-run game-tying bomb in the 7th inning and finished the game 3-for-4 with a walk. It looks like the Pirates will start the season with McCutchen batting in the two hole and despite what you think about who will bat third, it looks like at the very least that the Bucs best hitter will get more plate appearances this season and that can’t be a bad thing.
Polanco looked solid with two opposite field doubles, one against Red Sox starter David Price.
Jon Niese started and pitched 4.0 solid innings with two runs allowed, five strikeouts and no walks. Cory Luebke, who could be headed for Triple-A Indy if he accepts a minor league assignment, pitched 2.0 innings with one unearned run.
The Pirates finish up their Grapefruit League action tomorrow in Port Charlotte to face the Rays at 1:05PM to close the book on spring training. They’ll travel north to Indianapolis to face the Reds in an exhibition game on Saturday before Opening Day in Pittsburgh on Sunday.