The Pittsburgh Pirates’ Grapefruit League schedule is still a day away, but Tuesday afternoon featured baseball at Bradenton’s McKechnie Field in the form of the Black and Gold Game.
The intrasquad scrimmage gave some of the Pirates’ depth players a chance to get in some live action before the exhibition season, with catcher Tony Sanchez and pitcher Stolmy Pimentel stealing the show.
Sanchez, a 25-year-old who made his major-league debut last season, stroked a double and a three-run homer to push Team Gold to an early 3-0 advantage. The opposite-field two-bagger came off Team Black starter Pimentel, and the dinger was struck against Jay Jackson.
Although Pimentel allowed the Sanchez double, the right-handed hurler struck out four in two shutout innings. Pimentel, 23, appeared in five Pirates games last season, the first MLB action for the former Red Sox prospect. He’s a contender for the fifth spot in the Pittsburgh starting rotation, although bullpen duty remains an option as well.
Gregory Polanco beat out an infield single for Team Black, while Gift Ngoepe, a rare South African pro ballplayer, turned a double play for Team Gold. Ngoepe (pronounced en-WEE-pay) got the start at second base after the team designated infielder Chase d’Arnaud for assignment Monday, a corresponding move to claiming Brent Morel off waivers.
According to Pittsburgh Tribune-Review Pirates beat reporter Rob Biertempfel, the Bucs will likely start Russell Martin, Gaby Sanchez, Neil Walker, Jordy Mercer, Pedro Alvarez, Andrew McCutchen, Jose Tabata and Starling Marte against the Yankees at 1 p.m. Wednesday.