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Pirates ramp up camp with live batting practice

BRADENTON, Fla. -- At 11:25 a.m. ET on Wednesday, Spring Training reached another gear for the Pirates. It was time for batting practice not against a coach or a pitching machine, but against each other.

All four fields at Pirate City came alive. Opening Day starter Francisco Liriano dealt to Starling Marte; naturally his very first pitch, in the dirt, nearly clipped the toes of Marte, the human ball magnet. Charlie Morton threw to Travis Ishikawa; Edinson Volquez to Travis Snider; Gerrit Cole to Andrew McCutchen.

As usual, pitchers appeared to be ahead of hitters. Except, Gregory Polanco was ahead of Vin Mazzaro. The Most Valuable Player of the Dominican Winter League hit rope after rope off the righty reliever.

"I was pleased with the first day," manager Clint Hurdle said afterward. "I felt we were ready for it, and attacked it."

The hurlers each pitched two simulated innings, sitting down between rounds of about 15 pitches.

Tom Singer is a reporter for and writes an MLBlog Change for a Nickel. He can also be found on Twitter @Tom_Singer.
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