Keller ‘cool’ with starting Grapefruit opener

BRADENTON, Fla. -- As the Pirates' final full day of camp came to a close Thursday, Derek Shelton announced that Mitch Keller will start the team's first spring game on Saturday against the Twins.

The plan is for him to throw one or two innings.

"It's cool to know that I've got the first one," Keller said after the workout, "and we'll build off of that."

Keller told me earlier in camp that he is approaching this spring "like I don’t have a job right now."

Don't read too much into Keller getting the nod first, though. While it's a nice feather in his cap, Keller was partially selected because that's how Oscar Marin's schedule for his pitchers worked out.

"Basically, Oscar told me," Shelton joked about how he made the decision.

Shelton said he and Marin have the "general idea" of who will be in the lineup and who will also pitch in the opener, but opted to wait until Friday to reveal those picks.

The Pirates' spring schedule is a bit more demanding at the start than usual. After their opener Saturday, they will have a split-squad game Sunday and then a night game on the road Monday.

"I think we have to be very cognizant of workload the first few days, so we'll spread them [our starters] out," Shelton said.

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