SARASOTA, Fla. -- Left-handers Joe Beimel and Scott Olsen each moved one significant step closer toward being ready for Opening Day by each tossing one inning in the Pirates' 8-2 loss to the Orioles on Monday.
Beimel pitched in the seventh and Olsen followed him in the eighth after the Pirates finally cleared the two pitchers to return to the mound. Beimel (left forearm soreness) and Olsen (left hamstring strain) were each sidelined for varying lengths of time earlier in Spring Training.
The box score would indicate that things didn't go so smoothly for Beimel, a non-roster invitee who is poised to be the Pirates' primary left-handed reliever. Beimel, however, was more than satisfied with the outing.
"It felt amazing," Beimel said. "It really did. It might not have looked like it but I felt like everything was coming out pretty good. I was missing up a little bit, but for the first outing, I was actually pretty excited about it."
He allowed four hits -- including a homer on the first pitch he threw -- and three runs (one earned) in the frame. Beimel also struck out two. The length of the inning allowed Beimel to mix in a few off-speed pitches after he felt good with his fastball command. And with more than two weeks remaining before Opening Day, the lefty has no concerns about the limited time left to get in his work.
"I just have to fine-tune things from here," Beimel said. "I think stuff-wise, I felt like the ball was coming out pretty good. That's usually what you have to build up to. I think I'm right on track."
Olsen needed only 11 pitches (seven of which were strikes) to get through the eighth. He retired the first two batters on a total of four pitches before serving up a homer to Nick Green in the eighth. Olsen then allowed a triple before ending the inning on his own nice defensive play.
"For the most part, he kept the ball down," manager Clint Hurdle said.
With a successful one-inning appearance, the Pirates will now begin the process of stretching Olsen out, so that he can make every effort to re-enter the rotation competition. He is likely to throw two innings his next time out.