The Pirates will host the Toronto Blue Jays today in Bradenton with first pitch set for 1:05PM.
LHP Jon Niese will take the mound in his Bucs debut after being traded to Pittsburgh for Neil Walker in the offseason. Niese started 29 games for the Mets last season with a 4.13 ERA in 176.2 innings of work. With the loss of A.J. Burnett to retirement, Niese becomes a very important piece to the Bucs rotation this season. The ground ball pitcher hopes to benefit from the Pirates use of shifts and stellar outfield defense to turn in a surprise season. Ryan Vogelsong, a free agent pickup, is scheduled to pitch after Niese.
The other news from this game is that NHL Hall-of-Fame announcer and lifetime Pirates fan Doc Emrick will be in the broadcast booth to call a couple innings with Greg Brown. The audio is free on MLB.com and should be some fun with Doc on the call. Hopefully there’s a Pirates home run while he’s on call to give him a chance to gradually get excited as he does when a big play happens in hockey.