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Hayes caps 2-HR game with walk-off slam

Pirates' No. 2 prospect on game-winner: 'That was awesome'
@adamdberry
February 24, 2019

BRADENTON, Fla. -- If it was possible to upstage Jung Ho Kang’s two-homer debut on Sunday afternoon, Ke’Bryan Hayes did it. Hayes replaced Kang at third base during the sixth inning at LECOM Park and hit two homers of his own, including a walk-off grand slam that gave the Pirates

BRADENTON, Fla. -- If it was possible to upstage Jung Ho Kang’s two-homer debut on Sunday afternoon, Ke’Bryan Hayes did it.

Hayes replaced Kang at third base during the sixth inning at LECOM Park and hit two homers of his own, including a walk-off grand slam that gave the Pirates a 10-6 win over the Marlins. Overall, Pittsburgh’s third basemen went 4-for-5 with four homers and eight RBIs in the spring home opener.

“I’ve never been a part of a game where I’ve had two different third basemen hit two home runs,” Pirates manager Clint Hurdle said.

It was only a Grapefruit League game in late February, sure, but Hayes -- the Pirates’ No. 2 prospect in his first big league camp -- was beaming afterward. Hayes crushed his first homer off the batter’s eye in the sixth inning. Then he came up again in the ninth with two outs, the bases loaded and the score tied. Hayes worked a full count against Marlins lefty Jose Quijada, then swatted the game-winner out to left field.

“That whole at-bat, I’m just up there looking for something out over the plate,” Hayes said. “If he doesn’t give me that pitch, he walks me and we still win. Just kind of zoning in on one specific area over the middle of the plate.

“That was awesome. Like whenever you’re a little kid in the backyard, trying to make that tough situation like that, then being able to do it in a real game is pretty awesome for me.”

The moment was even more special for the 22-year-old Hayes because his father, Charlie, was in attendance. The elder Hayes is a Gulf Coast League coach in the Phillies' system, so he’ll soon be too busy to watch his son’s games.

“I cherish every moment that he’s able to come out and see me,” Hayes said.

Sim game report

Jameson Taillon, Chris Archer and Kyle Crick -- three of the Pirates’ most prominent pitchers – got their work in at the Pirate City complex on Sunday morning. Taillon threw 34 pitches over two innings in a simulated game. Archer threw 19 pitches during live batting practice. Crick threw 19 pitches in a simulated inning.

“They mixed pitches and worked on the things we wanted them to work on when they were over there,” Hurdle said. “It was a very good day for all three of those guys.”

The Pirates will use the early part of their Grapefruit League schedule to evaluate their young players and those competing for a spot on the roster. At the same time, players with set roles -- like Taillon, Archer and Crick -- can prepare for the season in a more controlled environment like the back fields of Pirate City.

Hurdle said the Pirates brought in umpires to call those sim games. Colin Moran, Corey Dickerson and Kevin Newman also made the trip across town to hit against their teammates.

Around the horn

• Right-hander Nick Kingham, competing for the final spot in Pittsburgh’s rotation, threw two scoreless innings against the Marlins on Sunday. Kingham allowed two hits and a walk with one strikeout.

“Anytime you go out to the mound, you want to make a good impression,” Kingham said. “It might be the last one you get, so you always want to be good and you always want to leave a good impression in the coaches’ minds and the decision-makers.'”

• Two former Indians-turned-Pirates made a good first impression during their spring debut. Right fielder Lonnie Chisenhall led off the first inning by ripping a double to right-center field, and he scored one pitch later when former Cleveland teammate Erik Gonzalez smacked a single to right.

• The Pirates will evaluate Pablo Reyes’ ability at shortstop this spring. He played four innings there on Sunday and went 2-for-2 with a double.

• While discussing the Pirates’ third-base options, Hurdle mentioned that catcher Francisco Cervelli might see time at third this spring. Cervelli occasionally played first base last season, with Elias Diaz starting behind the plate.

Up next

Right-hander Jordan Lyles, who is competing for the fifth-rotation spot with Kingham and Steven Brault, will make his Pirates debut as he starts against the Red Sox on Monday at LECOM Park. Left-handers Brandon Waddell and Elvis Escobar and right-handers Eduardo Vera and Jesus Liranzo are also expected to pitch for Pittsburgh. Southpaw Brian Johnson is scheduled to start for Boston. The game will be broadcast on KDKA-AM 1020 in Pittsburgh and the Pirates Radio Network. First pitch is set for 1:05 p.m. ET.

Adam Berry has covered the Pirates for MLB.com since 2015. Follow him on Twitter and Facebook and read his blog.