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Pirates, Rays play to spring training draw

PORT CHARLOTTE, Fla. — Colin Moran went 2-for-3 at the plate, inlcluding a run-scoring single in the first inning in a 2-2 tie for the Pittsburgh Pirates and the Tampa Bay Rays in spring training action Sunday.

Moran now has seven hits in his last six games. Charlie Tilson recorded a game-tying double in the top of the ninth inning to score Jared Oliva. Mitch Keller allowed one run over three innings of work and recorded five strikeouts in just his fouth start.

Trevor Williams is expected to take the mound today for the Pirates when they return to Bradenton to face the Toronto Blue Jays against Anthony Kay. Keone Kela, Nick Burdi, Kyle Crick, Edgar Santana and Geoff Hartlieb are also slated to see action for the Pirates.

Sanchez’ back improving

TAMPA, Fla — New York Yankees catcher Gary Sanchez said his sore back is improving, but he’s still out of the lineup.

Sanchez didn’t take batting practice Saturday or Sunday. He isn’t on the travel roster for Monday’s road game against the Philadelphia Phillies in Clearwater.

“Take a couple days and see how it goes,” Sanchez said through a translator. “Hopefully it progresses. As a baseball player you never want to be hurt, never want to have any kind of injury that holds you back. I just want to be healthy and try and do what I need to do to get back.”

It is thought the soreness in the lower- and mid-back stems from Sanchez playing back-to-back games for the first time this year Thursday and Friday.

“I definitely feel better,” Sanchez said. “Better than yesterday. It’s feeling a little tight, a little uncomfortable. You don’t want to rush it, especially spring training. You have time.”

Sanchez said he doesn’t know if a new catching stance he is using this year had any impact regarding the back issue.

O’s claim RHP Velazquez

SARASOTA, Fla. — The Baltimore Orioles claimed right-handed pitcher Hector Velazquez on waivers from the Boston Red Sox on Sunday.

The 31-year-old was 11-7 with a 3.90 ERA in 89 games in the last three seasons with Boston, including 19 starts.

Velazquez will compete for a spot on the Orioles’ staff. One candidate, right-hander Evan Phillips, will begin the season on the injured list due to right elbow soreness.

Calhoun hit in mouth

SURPRISE, Ariz. — Texas Rangers outfielder Willie Calhoun was hit in the mouth by a fastball Sunday and taken to a hospital.

The left-handed hitting Calhoun crumbled after being struck in the jaw by a fastball from Los Angeles Dodgers lefty Julio Urias in the first inning of a spring training game.

Calhoun fell on his back, put his hands over his face and was eventually carried off on a cart. The Rangers said he was taken to a hospital.

A fourth-round pick by the Dodgers in 2015, Calhoun was acquired by Texas in a trade for Yu Darvish in 2017 and established himself in the Rangers’ lineup last year. The 25-year-old set career bests with 21 homers, a .269 average and an .848 OPS in 83 games.

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