Exit Cole and Taillon; Bring in the noise
Remarkable how much “louder” today’s intrasquad game became once Gerrit Cole and Jameson Taillon left the mound.
Batters started making solid contact, even on outs. The second batter after Cole departed, Ivan De Jesus, tripled. The third, Starling Marte, connected for a drive halfway to Clearwater.
In the two innings each by Cole and Taillon, batters were on the total defensive. And in the hole: Cole started off each of the seven batters he faced with strikes; Taillon was 5-for-8.
Cole also wasted no time flashing his mean streak. His third pitch sailed in on Marte, who was swinging and fouled off the ball near his hands, which he shook for a few seconds, wondering where that nest of hornets had come from.
Trying to downplay this early look, manager Clint Hurdle said, “Those first two pitchers pitched very well today. But it is what it is — the first game, two innings in an intrasquad game.”
There will be more. In the coming week, Cole and Taillon should both get their first taste of big-league competition in Grapefruit League outings. …
Alex Presley, the triples-machine with seven in limited play last season, should’ve started off in style. But his first-inning drive atop the left-field line was called foul by the faraway plate umpire. The game was worked by a two-man crew, one behind the plate and another at first (when the bases were empty). …
Arriving in the McKechnie Field clubhouse for the first time, relocating from Pirate City, the Bucs were greeted by the annual “Feel Good” video on the big screen: A long loop in which every one of their swings produced a home run, and every one of their pitches punched someone out. That was the Pirates’ view of a perfect world.