BRADENTON, Fla. (AP) -- Craig Wilson hit two more home runs, then
pronounced himself more than eager for the season to start.
The question is whether the Pittsburgh Pirates' pitching staff
will be ready by next Monday's opener against Milwaukee.
The Pirates' Josh Fogg and the Devil Rays' Rob Bell each
struggled at times in a matchup of No. 4 starters. Fogg pitched
four scoreless innings in-between two bad ones and Bell, coming off
five shutout innings against the Dodgers, gave up Wilson's two-run
homer during a three-run Pirates first.
"That guy can hit them off anybody," Devils Rays manager Lou
Wilson hit 29 homers in his first full season as an everyday
player last year and is among the NL leaders with six homers this
spring. Like many players, he is getting restless and would prefer
to be playing games that count after six weeks of spring training.
"I think we're all ready for the season to start," Wilson
Wigginton's homer also was his sixth and gave him a team-high 18
RBI, but it was his starting pitcher's uneven outing that most
concerned manager Lloyd McClendon.
Except for opening day starter Oliver Perez, the Pirates'
rotation has struggled nearly all spring. Kip Wells has a 4.91 ERA,
Mark Redman has allowed 11 runs in his last nine innings and Dave
Williams couldn't hold a four-run lead against the Twins in his
last start Thursday.
Fogg gave up Travis Lee's first homer this spring, a two-run
drive to center in the first, then settled down before yielding
Jorge Cantu's two-run shot in the sixth. Fogg has allowed eight
homers in 17 innings and has a 9.53 ERA.
"He was good at times, bad at times," McClendon said. "You're
expecting more from your starters at this time. The fact he
elevated the ball at times is disappointing."
The right-handed Fogg has one more start left before the season
"You know it's still spring training, but you want to perform
well," he said. "I've got to fine tune some things."
Piniella felt Bell's pitch location was a problem at times and
that a strong breeze also didn't help.
"When he started throwing strikes, things turned around for
him," Piniella said.
^Notes:@ Bell was scored upon for only the second time in six games.
He has a 2.49 ERA. ... Pirates closer Jose Mesa pitched in
consecutive games for the first time this spring, working a
scoreless ninth. He also pitched a scoreless inning Sunday against
the Red Sox. ... Pirates LF Jason Bay, out since March 8 with a
bruised left wrist bone, went 0-for-4 in a minor league game. He
could play in a major league exhibition as early as Tuesday.