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Williams flips to 'season mode' in 8-K start

Right-hander fires 97 pitches, allows one earned run vs. Twins
MLB.com @adamdberry

FORT MYERS, Fla. -- Trevor Williams said he hasn't been told when his first regular-season start will take place, but he wanted to be in "season mode" on Wednesday night anyway.

For the most part, Williams was pleased with his outing in the Pirates' 3-1 loss to the Twins at the CenturyLink Sports Complex. He allowed two runs (one earned) on six hits and two walks while striking out eight. He increased his pitch count -- the most important part of Spring Training for starters -- and worked into the sixth inning.

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FORT MYERS, Fla. -- Trevor Williams said he hasn't been told when his first regular-season start will take place, but he wanted to be in "season mode" on Wednesday night anyway.

For the most part, Williams was pleased with his outing in the Pirates' 3-1 loss to the Twins at the CenturyLink Sports Complex. He allowed two runs (one earned) on six hits and two walks while striking out eight. He increased his pitch count -- the most important part of Spring Training for starters -- and worked into the sixth inning.

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The issue was his efficiency, as he needed 97 pitches to get through 5 1/3 innings.

"It was extremely inefficient. That would hit it on the head," Williams said. "As far as what we were trying to do, we were trying to get to 100 pitches, and we were trying to get six ups. We did that by pitching into the sixth."

:: Spring Training coverage presented by Camping World ::

The strikeouts were indicative of Williams' swing-and-miss stuff, which has been missing at times this spring. He induced weak contact and awkward swings, and his efficiency improved as the Twins became more aggressive the third time through the lineup.

The Pirates have not yet announced who will start their second and third games of the season, but it is worth noting Williams pitched two days after Ivan Nova, who is projected to start Opening Day against the Tigers on March 29, and one day before right-hander Chad Kuhl.

If he makes another start in five days, likely a shortened "tuneup" outing, Williams would be lined up to start Pittsburgh's second game on March 31, with Kuhl on track to pitch the April 1 finale in Detroit.

"It's got to be dialed in," Williams said. "We accomplished what we wanted to do today. It was just extremely inefficient."

Video: PIT@MIN: Williams talks about inefficiency in his outing

Around the horn

Gregory Polanco had an eventful evening in right field. With the sun setting directly in front of him, Polanco committed an error in the second inning, completely lost sight of Logan Morrison's fly ball-turned-double in the third inning and had to dive to take a hit away from Eddie Rosario. Polanco also stopped Eduardo Escobar from stretching a single into a double with a strong throw in the sixth inning.

"I know that sun comes right in your eyes for the first few innings," said Williams, who's familiar with the Twins' Florida State League ballpark. "It's tough. It's the sun. It's a giant ball of fire."

Video: PIT@MIN: Polanco battles the sun for a diving catch

Jose Osuna, competing to make the Opening Day roster, started at third base Wednesday night and went 0-for-3 at the plate. Reliever Kyle Crick, eyeing a spot in the bullpen, allowed two hits and struck out one in 1 2/3 innings.

• Manager Clint Hurdle was away from the team on Wednesday while attending a funeral. Bench coach Tom Prince served as the acting manager.

Injury updates

Right-hander A.J. Schugel (right shoulder discomfort) is playing catch from 120 feet, director of sports medicine Todd Tomczyk said, and could pitch off the mound soon. Schugel has not pitched in a game since Feb. 25. This close to Opening Day, it's safe to assume Schugel will begin the season on the disabled list.

Non-roster right-hander Bo Schultz took what Tomczyk called a "big step forward" in his return from Tommy John surgery, pitching in a Minor League game on Monday. Tomczyk said pitching in a game 11 1/12 months after surgery is an "unbelievable accomplishment" for Schultz, who will pitch in another Minor League game on Thursday. Rule 5 Draft pick Nick Burdi (Tommy John surgery last May) is still throwing off flat ground and hopes to progress to bullpen sessions next month.

Up next: The Pirates will play another night game on Thursday, hosting the Blue Jays at LECOM Park at 6:05 p.m. ET. Kuhl is scheduled to start for Pittsburgh, and closer Felipe Rivero and relievers Michael Feliz, Josh Smoker and Dovydas Neverauskas are also expected to pitch. The game will air live on AT&T SportsNet Pittsburgh, KDKA-FM and the Pirates Radio Network, and also can be viewed on MLB.TV. Meanwhile, right-hander Jameson Taillon will pitch in a Minor League game at Pirate City.

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

Pittsburgh Pirates, Trevor Williams