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Pirates Battle For Final Spot In Rotation Down To Two

PITTSBURGH (93-7 The FAN) - The Pirates are down to Trevor Williams and Tyler Glasnow for the final rotation spot after Drew Hutchinson was optioned to Triple A Indianapolis on Wednesday.

The move comes following giving up nine runs in his final Spring Training start, raising his Spring ERA to 10.02.

"Pitch execution and just location," said GM Neal Huntington. "The velocity on the fastball was better after he got hit. The location of the fastball was better after he got hit. Just basically pitch execution, conviction and aggressiveness with his stuff."

"We've seen some flashes of the guy we felt like we were getting when we traded for him. We saw way too much of the fastball catching the plate and other pitches not sharp."

Huntington said the man that was the center in the Francisco Liriano trade still can be a quality Major League starter.

"One of the challenges we've seen since he's been with us and one of the challenges in his career, are multiple run innings. Rather than being able to make a quick adjustment and just give up a single run inning, especially in our time, it's turned into a 2 or 3 or 6 run inning."

Trevor Williams Finishes Strong

The Pirates lost their final Florida Spring Training game to the Phillies 8-2 as Gerrit Cole gave up 3 homers. Trevor Williams relieved Cole and went 4 solid innings. That's 10 straight scoreless for the 24 year-old righty, who finished Spring with a 2.04 ERA in six games.

"The last few outings he's definitely got some things done," said manager Clint Hurdle. "The challenges last year were a quick two strikes and then a challenge to put people away. That seems to have spun in a different direction. He's pitched himself into a very competitive spot."

Williams said it was invaluable to have major league experience last year and learning about major league hitters.

"Not necessarily make the perfect pitch every time, but make a more competitive pitch and have everything come out of my hand more competitively (this camp)," Williams said. "Really just kind of have the all-or-nothing mentality like 'if this is the last pitch I throw in my entire life, this has to be competitive'."

Williams said he no longer takes the games or baseball in general home with him. When he gets away from the diamond, he doesn't watch or talk about baseball. Williams may also have been indirectly helped by what he gave up for Lent, social media.

"It's helped me be more present. They'll be times where we are just sitting at the house and we're watching TV or we're talking and I would scroll mindlessly through social media and it's like 'no, be present here'. It's my second Spring Training here with these guys and you're not going to be with all of these guys forever, just enjoy it while you're together."

Williams adds that the decision is out of his control, but he felt like he went out of Bradenton with a bang.

"You're really going for one of those 12 spots, if that's as a starter, great. If not, great," Williams said. "Whether that's in Pittsburgh or that's in Indy, it is what it is. I know whenever I get the opportunity with the ball in my hand, I'm going to give the team the best chance to win."

Polanco Not Going Montreal

While there is a surprise visa issue for Gregory Polanco, there is also a shoulder issue that is truly keeping the Bucs left fielder from going to Canada for a pair of exhibition games Friday and Saturday.

"When a guy has a past medical history as Gregory does, we are a little more cautious," said Pirates head athletic trainer Todd Tomczyk. "We are also aggressive enough to get him prepared for Opening Day."

Polanco did some successful light throwing on Wednesday and also had some minor league plate appearances.

"There is nothing half-speed about Gregory Polanco," Tomczyk said. "He gives 110 percent effort and sets himself up for bumps and bruises along the journey."

As for the visa issue, it's nothing like what Jung Ho Kang is dealing with, Huntington called it a "technical glitch".

"We've had to apply for visas for everybody that needed one going to Canada," Huntington said. "For the guys in the World Baseball Classic, it's been more challenging, because of timing and all of their paperwork being with them."

The Pirates are expecting to get Starling Marte's passport back today, then if they get confirmation, he will be on the trip.

Catcher Injury Updates

Francisco Cervelli continues to deal with foot issues as Tomczyk said he is starting the season, "overall pretty healthy".

"We're going to be talking about Francisco's foot from time-to-time, amongst other body parts. Don't be surprised if that rears its ugly head sometime during the course of the year, but he's in a good position to go out and compete."

Tomczyk said the goal is for Chris Stewart as he deals with groin discomfort is to get into back-to-back 9 inning games this week.

"I feel pretty good, I'm getting better every day, so I think that's a positive," Stewart said. "Slowing ramping stuff up, starting to do more catching, more blocking. Hitting is fine, didn't have any issue with that at all. We are slowly progressing to getting me to the point to be ready for Opening Day."

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