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Williams shaky in first spring start


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BRADENTON, Fla. -- Trevor Williams’ results weren’t very impressive, but he was just glad to have adrenaline pumping while on the mound.

Williams made his first appearance in a major-league exhibition game this spring and allowed four runs (three earned) in three-plus innings of a 11-0 split-squad loss to the Blue Jays on Friday at LECOM Park.

He also gave up five hits – including two solo home runs to rookie outfielder Anthony Alford -- and two walks while striking out three.

It was a far cry from Williams’ great second half of last season when he had a 1.38 ERA. However, it beat pitching in another simulated game at Pirate City.

“It was good to get out in an “A” game and pitch against guys in a different uniform than you,” Williams said. “I was thankful to get out there and work on some stuff. It was good to go into an “A” game knowing that my curveball was working, and I could work on some of the (pitch) sequencing we did out on the back fields.

“I let too many hitters get away from me and I have to do better with that next time. But it was good to get out, get four ups, get the pitch count up and not really feel tired when it was done.”

Williams also became the first Pirates batter to have a plate appearance this spring. He had a sacrifice bunt after admitting he was surprised to see his name in the ninth spot of the batting order when he looked at the lineup card upon arriving in the clubhouse.

Clint Hurdle said other pitchers are likely to get some at-bats in the near future.

Top prospect Mitch Keller had another rough outing, giving up four runs and four hits in two innings. The runs came on two-run homers by Jonathan Davis and Billy McKinney.

Ticketed to return to Triple-A Indianapolis to begin the season, Keller has now allowed 10 runs in four innings in three games.

“If anything else, it’ll give him an edge, a chip on his shoulder,” Hurdle said. “Nobody likes to go out and not have success, but I think it will give him increased focus going into his 3A season.”

Dovydas Neverauskas struck out the side in one scoreless inning.

The Pirates were held to just two singles as Sean Reid-Foley and three relievers combined on a shutout.

Kevin Newman had one of the hits as he competes with Erik Gonzalez for the starting shortstop job. Newman is 4-for-17 (.235) this spring.

• The Pirates also lost the other split-squad game, 5-2 to the Blue Jays in Dunedin.

Rookie Davis allowed four runs, four hits and four walks in two innings with no strikeouts. That came after he pitched two shutout innings against the Blue Jays in his spring debut in his bid to become the fifth starter.

Michael Feliz gave up one run in two innings while JT Brubaker (two innings), Luis Escobar (one) and Eduardo Vera (one) each had scoreless outings. Brubaker has allowed only one run in six innings.

Shortstop Oneil Cruz, one of the Pirates’ top prospects, hit a solo home run.

The losses drop the Pirates to 7-7 in the Grapefruit League.

• Hurdle said Joe Musgrove is scheduled to make his first start in a major-league exhibition next Friday night against Tampa Bay and pitch four innings. Musgrove is recovering from surgery to repair both a pelvic stress fracture and a hernia.

On Saturday, Musgrove will pitch a three-inning simulated game at Pirate City.

  The Pirates did not renew any of their non-arbitration players’ contracts, signing all 31 to one-year deals. Of course, the non-arb players have no leverage so they must settle for what the team offers, which is usually the major-league minimum salary of $555,000 or slightly higher.

Among the Pirates who will likely be eligible for arbitration following this season are Williams, Musgrove, Jameson Taillon, Josh Bell, Adam Frazier and Elias Diaz.

  The Pirates host the Twins at 1:05 p.m. Saturday in Bradenton with Clay Holmes starting against left-hander Martin Perez. Also scheduled to pitch for the Pirates are Felipe Vazquez, Keone Kela, Richard Rodriguez and Tyler Lyons.

Vazquez will be making his first appearance since being scratched from Tuesday's game with the Orioles because of an upper-respiratory infection.

The game will be televised by AT&T SportsNet Pittsburgh.

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