BRADENTON, Fla. (AP) -- Jason Bay homered in his first at-bat in
more than three weeks and Oliver Perez didn't allow a hit. The
Pittsburgh Pirates couldn't have gotten much better news with
opening day only five days away.
The Pirates blew a two-run lead in the ninth inning and tied the
Minnesota Twins 5-5 on Wednesday, but were encouraged by Bay's
return and Perez's determination to not give up a run in a
Bay, out since May 8 with a bruised left wrist bone, hit a solo
homer in the second inning off Matt Guerrier. Perez, the opening
day starter Monday against Milwaukee, worked out of a bases-loaded
jam he created by walking three in the fourth by getting a popup
and two strikeouts.
While doing so, Perez gave home plate umpire Dan Iassogna a few
angry glares and snapped his glove in frustration when catcher Ryan
Doumit threw the ball back to him. So much for the assumption major
leaguers don't care about spring training games.
"This was my last start (before the opener) and I didn't want
them to score," said Perez, one of the majors' top young pitchers
with a 2.98 ERA and 239 strikeouts last season. "It was important
to get ready for the first game."
Manager Lloyd McClendon liked the left-hander's intensity, but
not with lifting him after throwing 77 pitches in four innings --
Perez walked five and struck out six. Perez was on a 90-pitch
limit, so he threw the final 13 pitches in the bullpen.
"I liked the way he got out of it, but it's not good that he
got his pitch count up," McClendon said. "We need our starters to
go seven or eight innings, not four or five."
Perez led 1-0 when lifted after four, but the Twins took a 3-1
lead against reliever Ryan Vogelsong, who gave up three runs and
six hits in two innings.
Bay got 16 at-bats in minor league games from Sunday-Tuesday and
expects to play in the pirates' three remaining spring training
games to help him regain his conditioning.
"Something like that is always good for your confidence," said
Bay, the NL rookie of the year who was 1-for-15 before homering.
"I was a little nervous, but that helped me to relax."
McClendon is more concerned about his left fielder's lack of
time in the field than he is about his minimal number of at-bats.
Bay walked in his only other plate appearance.
"We're going to build him up the last three days," McClendon
said. "We've got to get his legs under him."
Minor leaguer Jorge Velendia had a two-run double in a four-run
Pirates eighth against minor leaguer Beau Kemp that briefly put
Pittsburgh up 5-3. Jason Tyner's triple led off the Twins' two-run
ninth against reliever Salomon Torres and was followed by second
baseman Victor Mercedes' error on Terry Tiffee's RBI grounder and
Chris Heintz's sacrifice fly.
The Twins made no postgame roster moves and may wait until
Saturday to complete their 25-man roster. ... The Pirates acquired
C David Ross from the Dodgers for cash because backup C Humberto
Cota (strained left side) may not be ready by opening day. ... The
Pirates committed three infield errors, two by Mercedes. ... Twins
opening day starter Johan Santana starts Thursday against the Red
Sox. ... The teams chose not to play extra innings.