John Means got his work in today. His arm is healthy. The opening day assignment is waiting for him.
The rest are just details.
Means threw 82 pitches in 3 2/3 innings and allowed three runs in a 6-5 loss to the Pirates at LECOM Park in Bradenton. He walked the leadoff batter in each of the last three innings. He struck out the last two that he faced.
“I feel like I’m ready to go,” he said in his Zoom call. “Feel like my body is there. I’m recovering well. Yeah, I feel pretty solid and yeah, ready to go.”
Means threw 32 pitches in the first and allowed only one run. Colin Moran saw 11 before striking out.
The inning began with Kevin Newman’s double on the first pitch and he scored on Phillip Evans’ sacrifice fly after Erik González singled.
A leadoff walk in the second inning was erased by Austin Hays’ throw from right field to double off Dustin Fowler, but Tony Wolters walked to lead off the third, Newman singled and they scored with one out on Phillip Evans’ single for a 3-1 lead.
Means had thrown 66 pitches as he returned to the dugout and his ERA rose to 6.14
“I thought he struggled with command a little bit early,” manager Brandon Hyde said in his Zoom call. “Encouraged by him getting the curveball where he wanted to the last couple innings. But I thought he was behind hitters and when he did get deep in counts, a lot of foul balls that got his pitch count high. Just wasn’t as sharp the first few innings that I know he’d like to be, but he battled and we got his pitch count up to where we wanted to, and I take that as a positive.”
Jay Flaa replaced Means after a walk and two strikeouts - one called on a curveball, one swinging at a changeup.
“Yeah, I liked my curveball, I liked the break,” Means said. “I thought I was stealing some strikes with it. Threw some better two-strike ones. Break is there, it’s just execution right now. But I feel pretty positive with it.”
Pedro Severino committed a throwing error in the fifth, retrieving a ball that got past him - it was scored a wild pitch on Flaa - spinning and firing it blindly into right-center field. His passed ball let the tying run score.
González’s two-out, two-run double off Isaac Mattson in the sixth gave Pittsburgh the lead. He appeared to escape the jam when Rio Ruiz charged Newman’s bouncer, but he couldn’t get the ball out of his glove and the official scorer ruled it a hit.
Hays committed an error earlier in the game on an air-mailed throw from right.
“I think we’ve just had some lapses in concentration so far,” he said. “Unfortunately, that happens in spring training, but we’ve shown some flashes of great defense, but we’ve been very inconsistent and we’ve had some games here and there where we’ve kicked the ball around. The later we get into this camp, we just need to clean up those lapses in concentration and just make sure we make the fundamental, routine plays.”
“Definitely like to get more consistent, no doubt about it,” Hyde said. “I think we’re playing fairly solid at times, but we need to get a lot better.”
Stevie Wilkerson singled and scored in the eighth on Ruiz’s double. Ruiz was out at third base.
Hays doubled and scored in the fourth, which raised his average at that moment to .389 and OPS to 1.075. He’s ready.
“My main goal, obviously, in the past I’ve had some issues with injuries and things of that sort,” he said, “so to come in and have a healthy camp so far and just be able to show all of my tools and all the things that I can bring to the table, it’s been great for me to be able to do that so far.
“What’s helped me to have a good statistical spring so far is I’m doing a good job of controlling the zone. I’m keeping my aggressiveness at the plate, but I’m doing a better job of being aggressive on pitches I can do damage with and hit balls hard. A lot less weak-contact balls put in play. So if I can just continue to do that, I think I’ll have success.”
Said Hyde: “I think we’ve seen when Austin Hays is healthy, he’s an exciting player. He’s shown signs of that the last two years. He’s swinging the bat great right now, he made one mistake in the outfield today but he’s been playing great defensively in right field and in center field and in left field.
“He got a good jump, stole a base today. Making things happen. It’s the kind of player he can be.”
Galvis doubled to score Hays, his second RBI of the day and making him 8-for-26 (.308). He’s ready.
Severino doubled to score Galvis, making him 4-for-31 with three extra-base hits. He’s been much better lately at the plate.
Cedric Mullins also doubled in the fourth for a 4-3 lead. He’s ready.
Trey Mancini singled in the third, making him 11-for-33 this spring. He’s ready.
Hitting coach Don Long said this morning that he didn’t notice any changes in Mancini after arriving in Sarasota.
“You know, to me he looked the same,” Long said (in case you missed it earlier today). “Physically, he looked strong, and swing-wise he looked good. He had been hitting some and I really didn’t see any difference.
“I think now as we’ve played games, the biggest difference is he’s just gotten more acclimated and he started to slow himself down, which has allowed him to kind of slow the game down. Which is true of any hitter, not necessarily a guy who missed a whole year. But he looked good right from the start and continues to get better and he works well and looks strong. I think he’s in a great spot.”
Anthony Santander drew his eighth and ninth walks today.
Remember when he didn’t do that? Also ready.