One bad inning hurts Bucs

From Mirror, wire reports

DUNEDIN, Fla. — Pittsburgh Pirates starting pitcher Mitch Keller gave up three earned runs in 21/3 innings on Monday in a 4-0 loss to Toronto in an exhibition matchup.

Keller gave up three hits, struck out two and walked one.

The Pirates, who fell to 2-8-1, managed only three hits.

Relievers Blake Cederlind and Cody Ponce each worked one inning and each struck out two. Those two along with relievers Brandon Waddell, Edgar Santana and James Marvel combined to give up just one hit in five-plus innings of relief.

The Pirates return to action Wednesday after having today off. Trevor Williams will pitch against Atlanta while Hector Noesi will start against the Phillies in a split-squad matchup.

In other Pirate news, Steven Brault has a strained left shoulder and will be evaluated in two weeks, the Pirates.

Brault is trying to earn a spot with the Pirates after splitting last season between the bullpen and starting rotation. The 27-year-old left-hander has struggled in two appearances this spring training, allowing two runs and four hits in 21/3 innings.

Brault went 4-6 with a 5.16 ERA in 19 starts and six relief appearances for Pittsburgh last season.

Right-hander Clay Holmes is out 4-to-6 weeks due to a foot fracture.

The missing Dodger

GOODYEAR, Ariz. — NL MVP Cody Bellinger was scratched from the Los Angeles Dodgers’ starting lineup on Monday for a spring training game against the Cincinnati Reds.

The outfielder took part in a charity event on Sunday night at a Topgolf facility in Scottsdale, and a video showed him hitting a long drive off a tee.

Golf swings aren’t believed to be the reason for his injury, according to manager Dave Roberts.

With the Dodgers on an off-day Tuesday and playing a game tonight, Roberts isn’t rushing to get Bellinger back to action. “We’ll see how he responds. But it’s not imperative that he plays in that night game, either,” Roberts said after the Dodgers played the Reds 6-2

Bellinger is 4 for 13 with two doubles.

He had been scheduled to play center field and bat fourth. Instead the Dodgers moved A.J. Pollock from left to center field and inserted Matt Beaty in left field for the spring training debut of left-hander David Price, who was acquired from Boston along with outfielder Mookie Betts.

Price watching

GOODYEAR, Ariz. — David Price felt a rush of nervous energy leading up to Monday. Acquired by the Dodgers last month from from Boston, he made his first spring training appearance for Los Angeles.

Price allowed two runs and three hits in 1 1/3 innings during a 6-2 loss to Cincinnati with three strikeouts and two walks.

“It’s been a while since I faced hitters wearing a different jersey,” the 34-year-old left-hander said. “It’s the first time I’ve been in a game in six, almost seven months. My legs were shaking out there. It’s just, if you love what you do you’re definitely going to have nerves. It was fun. I definitely enjoyed it, getting back out there.”

A left wrist problem that required surgery to remove a cyst limited Price to 4-plus innings last August and September. He finished 7-5 with a 4.28 ERA in 22 starts, then was traded by the retooling Red Sox with outfielder Mookie Betts for prospects.

ESPN hires Chipper

BRISTOL, Conn. — Hall of Fame third baseman Chipper Jones has joined the ESPN lineup.

The former Atlanta Braves star will work as a major league analyst, primarily on weeknight and holiday games. He’ll debut on opening day when San Francisco plays at Dodger Stadium on March 26.

Jones worked twice last year as a guest analyst for ESPN.

“We were instantly impressed,” senior coordinating producer Phil Orlins said in a statement Monday. “He is a charismatic storyteller with an authentic and fun-loving personality.”

The 47-year-old Jones hit .303 with 468 home runs and 1,623 RBIs in a 19-year career through 2012.

Virus causing problems

for Japanese Baseball League

TOKYO (AP) — The opening of the Japanese baseball season is in doubt because of the outbreak of the new virus, officials said Monday, as the nation’s baseball and soccer leagues tapped three medical experts as advisers.

Baseball commissioner Atsushi Saito said protecting fans, players and coaches was critical. Preseason games are being played in empty stadiums, with a hope the regular season can begin as scheduled on March 20.

But Saito acknowledged assessing whether the regular season can open — and with or without fans — is a delicate decision, noting the virus outbreak wasn’t expected to subside soon.

“That is the difficult part,” Saito said. “At this point, we still can’t say what action we will take under what conditions.”

The J-League soccer competition joined Nippon Professional Baseball in forming the panel to assess the virus outbreak. The panel, to be up and running by today, will include representatives from each of the 12 professional baseball clubs, as well as J-League representatives. It will come up with recommendations by the middle of this month.

The J-League had begun, but has suspended play. It hopes to resume on March 18.

J-League chairman Mitsuru Murai said matches attract crowds and unexpected problems.

“We must realize we have a responsibility for people’s health,” Murai said.

Reporters at the news briefing were required to wear masks, although Saito and Murai did not wear masks. They also shook hands afterward.

The Japanese government has indicated it sees the next couple of weeks as crucial to containing the spread of COVID-19, which began in China late last year.

The virus has sickened more than 89,000 people worldwide, mostly in China, but also Italy, Iran and South Korea. Japan has about a dozen deaths and about 1,000 cases, including people on a cruise ship that docked in a port city near Tokyo.

Events in Japan have been canceled in droves. Amusement parks, concerts, festivals and other places drawing crowds, including Tokyo Disneyland, have shut down. Schools across the nation have also been asked to close early for spring break. Worries are growing whether the Tokyo Olympics can go on as scheduled.


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