BRADENTON, Fla. -- The last time Joe Musgrove appeared in a game was at Dodger Stadium for Game 6 of the World Series. The atmosphere around Pirate City Field 4 was decidedly less intense, but Musgrove was nonetheless pleased to pitch in a game situation for the first time this
BRADENTON, Fla. -- The last time Joe Musgrove appeared in a game was at Dodger Stadium for Game 6 of the World Series. The atmosphere around Pirate City Field 4 was decidedly less intense, but Musgrove was nonetheless pleased to pitch in a game situation for the first time this spring.
Musgrove threw 31 pitches over two innings against a squad of Pirates Minor Leaguers on Friday morning. The low-pressure setting gave Musgrove -- who was set back early in camp by right shoulder soreness -- a chance to work on his delivery, and fine-tune some of his pitches.
"Ultimately, I was hoping to come out of this thing feeling healthy, and feeling like I gained a little progress on some of my pitches," he said. "I feel like I did that."
He felt his delivery was out of sync early on, but he found his rhythm as he retired the final three hitters he faced. He focused on fastballs, but used his entire arsenal. Most importantly, he felt strong.
"I wish I could have had another inning to work with because I felt like I finally fell into that groove of where I wanted to be," he said. "But I left on a good note, which I'm happy about, and I'll try to carry that over to my next one."
Musgrove -- who said on Wednesday he intended to break camp with the Bucs -- has yet to make a Grapefruit League appearance, but said he now plans to pitch every fifth day unless he's told otherwise. Manager Clint Hurdle on Wednesday was more cautious, as Pittsburgh has been from the start, considering his abbreviated offseason, saying the team will do whatever is in Musgrove's best short- and long-term interest.
Ideally, Musgrove would throw six innings in an outing before joining the regular-season rotation. He would reach that mark on March 29, Opening Day, if he stayed on turn going forward. The Pirates do not technically need a fifth starter until April 8, and it stands to reason that Musgrove would be ready by or before that date.
"I feel like physically, I'm ready to go. We'll see how things play out over the next couple weeks," he said. "At the most, maybe one outing I'll miss. I'm hoping we don't even have to do that. I'm hoping I'll be ready to go by Opening Day. I feel good.
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"I want to be a part of this team. I want to be there with my teammates on Opening Day. I want to get the ball when I'm supposed to get the ball, and not have to miss any starts. No one wants to go on the DL at all. If I can avoid that, I'm going to do everything I can."
Starting opposite Musgrove at Pirate City, Jameson Taillon threw 62 pitches in four innings. Taillon said he felt sharp, but may have thrown too many strikes, which led to a pair of early extra-base hits by prospects Oneil Cruz and Will Craig.
"I can truly rest my head on my pillow and say, I think three or four of [the five hits he allowed] were really good pitches. They just did a good job hitting them," Taillon said. "That happens all the way up. These kids are professional. They're here for a reason. We've got some good players. It's kind of encouraging."
The Pirates optioned right-hander Dario Agrazal to Double-A Altoona, and Luis Escobar, the club's No. 12 prospect according to MLB Pipeline, to Class A Advanced Bradenton and reassigned rehabbing catcher Jin-De Jhang to Minor League camp in their first wave of Spring Training roster cuts.
Catcher Elias Diaz and fourth-outfield candidate Jordan Luplow homered in the Pirates' 5-4 win over the Phillies at Spectrum Field.
Relievers John Stilson, Dovydas Neverauskas, Richard Rodriguez, Casey Sadler, Tyler Jones and Alex McRae allowed four hits and a walk while striking out eight.
Lefty Steven Brault gave up three runs (two earned) on five hits in 2 2/3 innings, but felt he pitched better than his line indicated.
"Overall, it was a lot of good work," Brault said.
One Pirates squad will remain at LECOM Park on Saturday to face the Braves at 1:05 p.m. ET in a game televised on AT&T SportsNet in Pittsburgh and live on MLB.TV. Trevor Williams will take the mound followed by relievers Felipe Rivero, Kyle Crick, Kevin Siegrist (making his Pirates debut), Josh Smoker and Jordan Milbrath.
Meanwhile, Chad Kuhl will start against the Orioles in Sarasota, Fla. Also scheduled to pitch at Ed Smith Stadium are George Kontos, Michael Feliz and Edgar Santana. That broadcast will air on KDKA-FM and the Pirates Radio Network, and you can listen live on Gameday Audio.
Adam Berry has covered the Pirates for MLB.com since 2015. Follow him on Twitter and Facebook and read his blog.