TAMPA, Fla. -- The Yankees didn't make it easy on Joe Musgrove. In his first official inning of the spring, Musgrove took the mound on Thursday at Steinbrenner Field and had to face the slugging trio of Aaron Judge, Giancarlo Stanton and Gary Sanchez.But Musgrove held his own, striking out
TAMPA, Fla. -- The Yankees didn't make it easy on Joe Musgrove. In his first official inning of the spring, Musgrove took the mound on Thursday at Steinbrenner Field and had to face the slugging trio of Aaron Judge, Giancarlo Stanton and Gary Sanchez.
But Musgrove held his own, striking out five over 2 2/3 innings in his Grapefruit League debut to start the Pirates' 9-5 loss to the Yankees. Musgrove threw 54 pitches, including 33 strikes, and used everything in his deep arsenal as he allowed two runs on one hit and three walks. One run scored after Musgrove hit his pitch count and left the game.
"I was really excited to be out there. It felt good to get my feet wet in a spring game," said Musgrove, who showed no signs of the shoulder discomfort that slowed him earlier in camp. "To face a lineup like that is good. It's a challenge, and I get to work on some stuff that I'm not used to working on. I was happy with it."
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Brett Gardner drew a leadoff walk and scored when Judge smashed a breaking ball off the center-field wall. Musgrove then struck out five of the next six hitters. Stanton swung through a changeup, not usually Musgrove's put-away pitch, to end the first. Musgrove froze Drury with an 94-mph inside fastball to end the second.
"There was some nice sink to the fastball, and he mixed in everything else," manager Clint Hurdle said. "I thought it was a very good step forward for him."
Musgrove has time to make two more starts before camp breaks, adding an inning each time out, but the Pirates prefer their pitchers to make a six-inning/100-pitch start before the regular season. If he remains on a five-day rotation, that outing would come on March 29, which is Opening Day.
Will Musgrove be in Detroit with the Pirates and ready for his first turn through the rotation? He hopes so.
"My health throughout the year is more important to me than being there for Opening Day. If things continue to progress the way they have, there's a good chance I can be there," he said. "If I need to take a step back and slow things down a bit, I can do that as well. With where we're at now, I don't see there's any reason why I wouldn't be there Opening Day."
Pittsburgh Kid in pinstripes
Neil Walker, the Pittsburgh native and former Pirate, said the Bucs did not express any interest as he waited through a long and "frustrating" offseason. Walker eventually found a fit with the Yankees, who signed him on Monday to a one-year, $4 million deal.
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Pittsburgh filled its infield need with third baseman Colin Moran, who came with Musgrove in the Gerrit Cole trade. The Pirates dealt Walker to the Mets in December 2015 for lefty Jonathon Niese, who struggled in the Bucs' rotation. Walker has since played for the Brewers and now joins the Yankees as a utility infielder.
Walker, who sought a contending team more than a starting role, said it was nice to see his former teammates and catch up before Thursday's game.
"It brings back a lot of memories. Obviously we had some great times there," said Walker, who still lives in Pittsburgh. "I still feel a part of it, to a certain degree, and I think I'll always feel that way."
Jose Osuna, eyeing a spot on the bench, homered for the third time this spring. He is 9-for-27 in 14 games. Outfielders Bryce Brentz and Jordan Luplow each went 0-for-3 with a strikeout.
Reliever Kyle Crick induced four groundouts and struck out one over two scoreless innings. Lefty Kevin Siegrist struck out Sanchez and Aaron Hicks in a perfect seventh, giving him five strikeouts in two innings this spring. Right-hander Dovydas Neverauskas allowed a homer in the eighth.
The Pirates will return to LECOM Park on Friday to host the Braves at 1:05 p.m. ET. Jameson Taillon will make the start for Pittsburgh, sharpening up for his scheduled outing in the Bucs' home opener on April 2. Left-hander Josh Smoker, competing for a spot in the bullpen, and non-roster right-hander Tyler Eppler are also scheduled to pitch. The game will air live on AT&T SportsNet Pittsburgh, MLB.TV and MLB Network.
Adam Berry has covered the Pirates for MLB.com since 2015. Follow him on Twitter and Facebook and read his blog.