BRADENTON, Fla. -- The sight might not have been unusual on a back field during the first week of Spring Training workouts. Maybe not even during a simulated game, with an "L" screen in front of the mound, or during an intrasquad scrimmage.But it was certainly different to look at
BRADENTON, Fla. -- The sight might not have been unusual on a back field during the first week of Spring Training workouts. Maybe not even during a simulated game, with an "L" screen in front of the mound, or during an intrasquad scrimmage.
But it was certainly different to look at Gerrit Cole staring down Starling Marte, to watch Tyler Glasnow pitching to Gregory Polanco and to see both Marte and Polanco wearing different uniforms as they faced the Pirates in the Dominican Republic's 10-6 exhibition win on Wednesday at LECOM Park.
Everyone involved said the experience wasn't as strange as it seemed, however, given the number of times they've lined up against each other during live batting practice.
"You know, I've faced them sometimes before in intrasquad or live BP," Polanco said. "It's going to feel the same."
"It was cool, for sure. I've faced them in live BPs and stuff," added Glasnow. "That whole [Dominican] lineup, it was kind of an honor to throw to them."
• Dominican team shows passion
Cole got the best of Marte in the second inning, getting him to ground out to shortstop Jordy Mercer. But Polanco barreled up a fastball from Cole and launched it to the center-field wall for a double.
"It was fun. They're really good hitters, so when you make a mistake, they get a good read," Cole said. "They're good hitters. You leave it over the middle to Greg, he's going to hit it. Marte's a five-tool player."
Marte and Polanco singled off Glasnow in the fifth, and Marte did so again in the Dominican team's nine-run sixth inning. Polanco knocked a ground-ball single to left off reliever Dan Runzler. Polanco finished 3-for-3 with a double and two walks, while Marte went 2-for-3.
"I've watched them get on base before," Pirates manager Clint Hurdle said. "I just got to watch it from a different seat."
Polanco, who was moved to left field this spring, started in right on Wednesday, but he could play both corners in the World Baseball Classic, Dominican manager Tony Pena said. But Pena's center fielder is also the Pirates' new man in the middle. Pena and general manager Moises Alou made that call even before the Bucs' outfield realignment.
"Before the Pirates made their decision, Moises Alou and myself thought that Marte would be the best fit for us in center field," Pena said. "This kid can play center field."
The exhibition, a tune-up for the Dominican Republic's World Baseball Classic appearance, included a number of other oddities -- specifically in the visiting team's bullpen. Pirates non-roster invitees Tyler Eppler, Cody Dickson and Jared Lakind all pitched for the Dominican squad.
All three pitchers -- including Dickson, who earned the win with 1 1/3 scoreless innings -- are natives of Texas. Lakind is in the designated pitcher pool for Team Israel. Yet all three donned Dominican Republic jerseys and hats before they took the mound.
The World Baseball Classic runs through March 22. In the U.S., games air live exclusively in English on MLB Network and on an authenticated basis via MLBNetwork.com/watch, while ESPN Deportes and WatchESPN provide the exclusive Spanish-language coverage. MLB.TV Premium subscribers in the U.S. have access to watch every tournament game live on any of the streaming service's 400-plus supported devices. The tournament is being distributed internationally across all forms of television, internet, mobile and radio in territories excluding the U.S., Puerto Rico and Japan. Get tickets for games at Marlins Park, Tokyo Dome, Estadio Charros de Jalisco in Mexico, Petco Park, as well as the Championship Round at Dodger Stadium, while complete coverage -- including schedules, video, stats and gear -- is available at WorldBaseballClassic.com.
Adam Berry has covered the Pirates for MLB.com since 2015. Follow him on Twitter and Facebook, read his blog and listen to his podcast.