MLB Insiders: Pittsburgh Pirates

Daniel McCutchen

Kevin Hart seems to be losing ground in the competition against fellow right-hander Daniel McCutchen for the one open spot in the Pirates rotation.

Hart drew raves from manager John Russell for how well he was throwing during the early portion of spring training. However, Hart struggled mightily since the exhibition games started, as he had given up seven runs in just three innings in his first two starts, walking seven and allowing four hits.

McCutchen, meanwhile, had given up one run in four innings in his first two outings of the Grapefruit League season. He allowed three hits and issued no walks.

"It's still too early to look at it in the sense that we're trying to pick a guy," Russell said. "It's just a matter of keep running them out there for now. We'll see where we're at in a couple of weeks."

McCutchen also pitched better for the Pirates last year during the regular season. He went 1-2 with a 4.21 ERA in six starts after being called up on Aug. 31 from Class AAA Indianapolis, where he won 13 games. Hart was 1-8 with a 6.92 ERA in 10 starts after being acquired from the Cubs in a trade on July 30.

Hart has made a number of mechanical adjustments with his throwing motion this spring. He believes those adjustments are working despite his poor Grapefruit League statistics.

"I feel good and under control," Hart said. "I feel like I'm taking steps forward, both stuff-wise and pitch-wise. I feel better, a whole lot more confident."


--RHP Octavio Dotel was expected to start throwing live batting practice March 15. He had yet to pitch in an exhibition game because of a strained muscle in his left ribcage. While the Pirates feel Dotel might still have enough time to begin the season on the active roster, the chances of him starting on the disabled list keep growing. The Pirates signed Dotel as a free agent in January to serve as their closer this season.

--RHP Joel Hanrahan had yet to throw off a mound this spring as of March 12, and he acknowledged that he would begin the season on the disabled list. He reported to spring training with a strained pronator flexor in his elbow. Hanrahan had increased his throwing program to the point where he was playing catch at 105 feet, and he should be on the active roster by no later than the end of April if he continues to progress in his rehabilitation program.

--OF Brandon Jones returned to action after missing the first week of exhibition games with soreness in his right knee. Claimed off waivers from Atlanta in the offseason, Jones is in the running to win a bench job.

--RF Garrett Jones hit a home run and a double off Yankees LHP CC Sabathia in an exhibition game, which has to be considered an encouraging sign. Though Jones hit 21 home runs in 82 games as a rookie last season, he struggled against lefties, batting .208 in 101 at-bats.

--OF Andrew McCutchen says he plans to run more this season. McCutchen was successful on 22 of 27 stolen base attempts last season as a rookie.

BY THE NUMBERS: 5 -- Scoreless innings by RHP D.J. Carrasco to start the exhibition season, putting him in prime position to win a long-relief job.

QUOTE TO NOTE: "I know spring training results don't matter, but they do matter when you give up eight runs to the Pirates." -- LHP CC Sabathia after actually allowing five runs in 2 2/3 innings against Pittsburgh on March 8.


--RHP Octavio Dotel (strained muscle in left rib cage) threw a bullpen session March 9 and reported no problems. He remained optimistic about being ready for the start of the season.

--RHP Joel Hanrahan (strained right elbow) was shut down at the start of spring training. He is expected to start the season on the disabled list.

--RHP Craig Hansen (nerve problem in neck) was slowed at the beginning of spring training. He should be able to pitch at some point this season.

--RHP Jose Ascanio (arthroscopic right shoulder surgery in October 2009) likely will be out until June.

--INF Ramon Vazquez (microfracture right knee surgery in November 2009) is expected to be ready for the start of the season.

--RHP Tyler Yates (Tommy John elbow surgery in July 2009) likely will be ready to pitch in games sometime in July. Recommended Stories

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