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Pirates pick up first exhibition league win

From Mirror, wire reports

FORT MEYERS, Fla. — The Pittsburgh Pirates picked up their first exhibition win on Saturday, beating the Minnesota Twins, 2-0.

Jose Osuna doubled home Ke’Bryan Hayes with a run in the sixth inning, and Will Craig doubled and scored for the Pirates on a Kevin Kramer single in the ninth inning.

Starting pitcher Derek Holand worked two-plus innings giving up two hits with one walk and two strikeouts. Motana DuRapau got the save with an inning of work in the ninth. He struck out one and did not walk a batter. Dovydas Neverauskas struck out two in one inning of work.

Clay Holmes, working in relief for the Pirates, was removed from the game when he got hit on the leg by a line drive off the bat of the Twins’ Nelson Cruz.

The Pirates are scheduled to host Toronto today at 1:05 p.m. Joe Musgrove will start. Also pitching will be Keone Kela, Chris Stratt, Yacksel Rios, Nick Burdi, Kyle Crick and Luis Escobar.

The game will be televised live on AT&T SportsNet.

The first time

SURPRISE, Ariz. — Salvador Perez was back behind the plate for the first time since Tommy John surgery.

The six-time All-Star caught the first four innings of the Kansas City Royals’ 3-1 loss to a San Francisco split squad on Friday.

“I was super-excited to be back behind the home plate,” Perez said. “I feel great. I feel good. I wasn’t nervous.”

A five-time Gold Glove winner, the 29-year-old slugger had not caught in a game since Sept. 26, 2018.

Perez hurt a ligament in his right elbow during drills in spring training last year, and Los Angeles Dodgers team physician Dr. Neal ElAttrache performed Tommy John surgery on March 6.

“It was emotional,” Perez said. “It was kind of like opening day — once you catch the first pitch, it’s a regular game. I blocked some balls, threw to second base between innings. It was all great.”

Yankees’ star hurting

TAMPA, Fla. — New York Yankees star Aaron Judge has undergone an MRI and further tests as the team tries to determine the cause of his ailing right shoulder.

Manager Aaron Boone said Judge “was not right” while taking batting practice in an indoor cage Friday.

“We’re in a holding pattern with it, just trying to figure out what exactly is going on,” Boone said Saturday. “We”re trying to get our arms around if we can pinpoint something that’s causing some of the discomfort. At this point we haven’t found that.”

Judge was shut down from hitting a week before spring training after experiencing soreness in the shoulder. The slugging right fielder had been scheduled to take batting practice on the field for the first time since being shelved this weekend.

Boone feels Judge could be ready for the start of the season if he’s able to play in games over the final 10 days or so at spring training.

“First things first is getting him to that point and I don’t know when that is,” Boone said. “I’m a little frustrated for him.”

Judge has no issues while throwing out to 120 feet. The current discomfort is similar to what sidelined him during some early workouts.

A Giant surprise

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. — Drew Smyly was excited to pitch against several Los Angeles Angels stars on Saturday.

“It’s a really good lineup. You want to face those guys, so that you can get better, regardless of the outcome. Seeing them in the lineup, that’s good quality work,” the San Francisco Giants lefty said after he pitched two scoreless innings.

After giving up a scratch hit to leadoff man David Fletcher, Smyly struck out Mike Trout, retired Anthony Rendon on a flyball and fanned Justin Upton to end the first inning. He pitched a 1-2-3 inning in the second, throwing 31 pitches, 19 for strikes.

Saturday’s stint followed up a scoreless outing on Monday against Arizona.

“My fastball was pretty good today. I could tell by some of their swings,” Smyly said. “I’m excited where I’m at right now.”

Both strikeouts were called and came on 80-mph curveballs. Trout’s was on a full count.

“It seems like I end up facing Trout a lot,” said Smyly, who until last year pitched entirely in the American League. “No doubt he’s the best hitter in the game.

“You look forward to those battles. He’s got me lots of times,” he said.

In 18 career at-bats against Smyly, Trout has five hits — two home runs and three doubles.

Smyly, 30, missed all of 2017 and 2018 after having Tommy John surgery. He returned last season with Texas, but was 1-5 with an 8.42 ERA in nine starts before the Rangers released him. Milwaukee signed him, but also let him go after he made three starts in the minors.

He landed with the pitching-starved Phillies, and it was there that Smyly began to figure out some things. He was 3-2 with a 4.45 ERA in 12 starts for Philadelphia, cutting his walks per nine innings from six in Texas to three.

Smyly is trying to get back to being the pitcher he was before injuries. In his first four seasons, with the Detroit Tigers and Tampa Bay Rays, he was 24-15 with a 3.24 ERA. Since 2016, his ERA is 5.41.

No more waiting

JUPITER, Fla. — Patrick Corbin’s longer-than-normal wait for his first spring start left him more refreshed that rusty.

The Washington Nationals lefty made his Grapefruit League debut on Saturday, allowing one run to St. Louis in two quick innings of a 6-3 loss.

“I liked what I saw out of Pat today,” Nationals manager Dave Martinez said. “He had some nice fluidity. He was getting extended, which was kind of nice. He said he felt good.”

Corbin threw 202 innings regular-season innings last year and 23 1/3 more in the postseason, prompting the Nationals to slow his workload in the spring. He’s the last of the reigning World Series champions’ starters to appear in a spring game.

In the postseason, Corbin started three games and made five relief appearances.

He needed only 24 pitches to complete two innings. He walked two, and the lone hit he surrendered was a wind-aided, opposite-field homer hit by Paul DeJong off an unintentionally elevated fastball.

Corbin signed a six-year free agent contract with Washington prior to last season, then proceeded to match his career high with 14 wins, pitching to a 3.25 ERA.

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