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Brault, Williams in friendly competition

Roommates threw back-to-back against the Braves
MLB.com

BRADENTON, Fla. -- Steven Brault and Trevor Williams are up for the same rotation spot, eyeing the fifth-starter job alongside Drew Hutchison and top prospect Tyler Glasnow. But this is a friendly competition, no matter how the Spring Training roommates joke about it.

"I set up our house like 'Home Alone,'" Brault said, "but he hasn't fallen for any of them yet."

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BRADENTON, Fla. -- Steven Brault and Trevor Williams are up for the same rotation spot, eyeing the fifth-starter job alongside Drew Hutchison and top prospect Tyler Glasnow. But this is a friendly competition, no matter how the Spring Training roommates joke about it.

"I set up our house like 'Home Alone,'" Brault said, "but he hasn't fallen for any of them yet."

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Much is made about position battles every spring, but the idea is at odds with the reality that most of the competing players are close friends. That's particularly true of Brault and Williams, offseason throwing partners and roommates who have pitched on the same day since Grapefruit League games began.

"We're all pulling for each other," Williams said. "We all have the end goal in mind: We all want to win a World Series with the Pirates and we want to help contribute at the Major League level. And I know all of us will. … It's a great thing for the Pirates to have this many guys going for that one last spot."

Brault was followed by Williams in their first two outings, but the Pirates flipped the order and gave Williams the start in Tuesday's 6-3 win over the Braves at LECOM Park. Williams worked two scoreless innings, then gave up three runs in the third, which he wasn't able to finish. Brault had the more impressive statistical line, striking out three over three scoreless innings while allowing three hits and a walk, but manager Clint Hurdle said the two had similar outings.

"Both Trevor and Brault pitched behind in counts. They didn't have their best stuff and they competed very well without their best stuff," Hurdle said. "Neither one of them was crisp with their control today. They had to go to work. They rolled up their sleeves. … Those guys, they're fighting for stuff out there and it's fun to watch them."

Around the horn

• Hurdle returned to camp and managed Tuesday's game after missing two days to attend a friend's funeral.

• Right-hander Angel Sanchez, a non-roster invitee who sat out last season following Tommy John surgery, is scheduled to make his Spring Training debut on Wednesday. The 27-year-old posted a 2.69 ERA in 23 starts between Double-A Altoona and Triple-A Indianapolis in 2015.

"Another one of our guys that's worked so hard to get back into a position to compete and get off those back fields," Hurdle said. "We're looking forward to his opportunity, definitely."

• The Pirates will face an interesting challenge Wednesday at LECOM Park, hosting the Dominican Republic's World Baseball Classic team. Not only will Gerrit Cole and Glasnow face a lineup loaded with All-Stars gearing up to represent their country, they'll potentially be pitching to teammates Starling Marte and Gregory Polanco.

"That will be different. We haven't experienced that," Hurdle said. "We'll see how our pitching philosophy works out on them tomorrow."

• Pirates catcher Francisco Cervelli started for Team Italy in a Tuesday exhibition against the Cubs in Arizona. Cervelli caught four innings and went 1-for-3 with a two-run single.

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

Pittsburgh Pirates, Steven Brault, Trevor Williams