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Musgrove happy to focus on pitching

Pirates starter goes five innings in key test for surgically repaired hip
@Sportsgal25
March 20, 2019

FORT MYERS, Fla. -- On Friday, Joe Musgrove used his spring debut to overcome any lingering doubts he had about his surgically repaired hip. On Wednesday, for the first time in quite a while, the Pirates right-hander was able to just go out and pitch.

FORT MYERS, Fla. -- On Friday, Joe Musgrove used his spring debut to overcome any lingering doubts he had about his surgically repaired hip. On Wednesday, for the first time in quite a while, the Pirates right-hander was able to just go out and pitch.

Nothing crazy, and no pitching line worthy of its own tale, just a five-inning, three-run performance from a starter who’d been desperately wanting to get back to business. For Musgrove especially, no news was the best possible response when asked about his second Grapefruit League start.

“It was good; I’m tired,” he said. “It’s all part of that build-up process though. I felt good coming out of it, I felt healthy. I threw a lot of strikes and felt like I commanded the top of the zone a little better than last time out, so I was happy with it.”

Musgrove is well ahead of where he was a year ago at this time, when a right shoulder injury kept him from his season debut until May 25. Instead of “simply trying to get through the day” as he had during spring 2018, on Wednesday the right-hander was able to check off some of the more typical end-of-spring to-dos.

Fine-tuning location was on that list. Musgrove, who allowed eight hits and did not walk a batter during the Pirates’ 6-5 win against the Twins at Hammond Stadium, came away satisfied with his work up and in, as well as his ability to adjust.

“I got to work the slider more against righties,” he said. “Some of my pitches weren’t there; the sinker didn’t have its normal action on it, so [I was] having to rely on other pitches to get through my outing.

“I wanted to treat it as close to a game as I could. At this point, I’m not necessarily trying to work on things anymore, just getting out there and competing and treating it like it were a normal game.”

Pittsburgh’s No. 3 starter was also able to test his agility in a few different scenarios. In the bottom of the first inning, Musgrove caught Jorge Polanco taking too large a lead at first base and threw behind him to initiate a rundown that resulted in the frame’s final out.

Musgrove also cleanly fielded an Eddie Rosario comebacker in the fourth, hustled to back up third on a single to right in the same inning and batted once, striking out to end the third.

Next up is one final tuneup. Musgrove said he’d throw a sim game at the Pirates’ Spring Training complex in Bradenton, Fla., on Monday before rejoining Pittsburgh to watch its exhibition at Houston. He’s slated to start March 31 at Cincinnati in the third game of the regular season. With everything clicking at this point, Musgrove said he’ll focus on preparing as normal and let the rest take care of itself.

“With the buildup and everything, coming off of the surgery, unsure of how I was going to feel and what kind of setbacks, if any, I was going to have this spring, I feel pretty good right now,” he said. “I’ve got one more outing, six more innings to kind of fine-tune everything I want to shape up.

“I feel really good, going into my last start of spring.”

Injury report
Catcher Jacob Stallings left the game early as a precaution after experiencing neck tightness following his at-bat in the second inning. Stallings, who will be further evaluated by the training staff, was replaced by Steven Baron in the top of the fifth inning.

Dawn Klemish is a reporter/editor for MLB.com based in Tampa. Follow her on Twitter @Sportsgal25.