Leroux still a work in progress

Leroux still a work in progress

PORT CHARLOTTE, Fla. -- Chris Leroux was handed a one-run lead in the eighth inning on Friday against the Rays, a lead he couldn't hold.

He surrendered two hits and a walk, allowing Tampa Bay to tie the score at 7. Leroux walked off the mound, covered his mouth with his glove, and let out quite the howl.

Leroux, who turns 27 in April, did feel badly that he couldn't put up a zero -- the Pirates nonetheless won, 8-7 -- but more than most in Spring Training, he's got some things he's working on. Like, everything.

"I've been working on a lot on my mechanics, [which are] almost totally different than I used to be when I came into camp," the 6-foot-6 right-hander said. "I'm working on following through. I tend to come up when I finish, and that leaves the ball up sometimes. My front step, I need to keep my front side closed, and it's just a bunch of different things. My mind's racing a mile a minute when I'm out there."

Leroux is likely ticketed for Triple-A out of Spring Training, a level at which he struggled last year, compiling an 0-3 record and a 6.95 ERA in 21 appearances. Leroux said the poor numbers were a product of a few bad games more than consistently poor outings.

Leroux has made appearances in the Majors each of the past two seasons, but he understands that, with the number of adjustments he's undertaken, a return might not be in the cards as soon as April.

"I always like to think that I have a chance of making it," Leroux said, "but now with all my mechanical changes, I realize that it's going to be a process."