Taillon, Kuhl shining outside the spotlight

Young Bucs both throw Wednesday after time off

Taillon, Kuhl shining outside the spotlight

BRADENTON, Fla. -- Jameson Taillon pitched four strong innings Wednesday afternoon at LECOM Park during the Pirates' 6-5 win over Baltimore. It was his first Grapefruit League outing in 10 days after throwing a three-inning simulated game last week.

Meanwhile, right-hander Chad Kuhl pitched four scoreless innings in a Minor League game at Pirate City against the Phillies' Triple-A team. He worked in front of a smaller crowd, focusing on throwing back-foot sliders and staying calm out of the stretch.

Both starters benefited from their time out of the spring spotlight, they said, and they're enjoying their first full Spring Training.

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"It's really nice to go about your business and know you're going to be here for a while," Kuhl said.

After a solid Major League debut, Kuhl is working to lock down a spot in the Opening Day rotation. Taillon, already set for an April 5 date with Chris Sale and the Red Sox, has his spot secured. That doesn't significantly change their approach, but it's had an impact on their preparation and comfort level.

Kuhl talks third start of spring

"Maybe I'm not trying to turn as many heads. I'm not trying to shake people's hands and get to know them. I know all the guys," Taillon said. "I think I get to work on a few more things."

That's especially true when they take to the back fields at Pirate City, as Kuhl did Wednesday, or step onto the mound for a "sim game," like Taillon did last week. In his previous outing, Taillon worked on fielding bunts, controlling the running game, bouncing his curveball and sequencing his fastballs.

He threw two-seamers down and away then went up-and-in with four-seam fastballs, changing hitters' eye levels without worrying about the scoreboard.

"We can own the situation better to have them work on some things," manager Clint Hurdle said. "We give them some marching orders when they go over there. … They've proven to be very beneficial for us with that type of mentality that we take over there."

Taillon on adjusting to Majors

Taillon made a more traditional start Wednesday afternoon at LECOM Park -- curiously, his first official Spring Training outing at the ballpark formerly known as McKechnie Field since March 7, 2014 -- and held the Orioles to one run on two hits while striking out two. He pounded the bottom of the zone and threw a sharp curveball. The Orioles only hit two balls in the air during Taillon's four innings, and both were outs.

"He competes. He finds outs," Hurdle said. "No walks, doesn't hurt himself that way. Liked what I saw from the man going and getting stretched out. It was a good day for Jameson."

Kuhl was pleased with his work as well, as he threw four scoreless innings on 57 pitches and laid down three bunts at the plate. After Hurdle said he looked like a "man in a hurry" on the mound in his last outing, Kuhl said he was able to "find myself again out of the stretch, not be in a rush and just execute pitches."

"It went really well," he added.

Last spring, both pitchers were sent to Minor League camp on March 14 to prepare for the Triple-A season. This year, they're sticking around and getting ready for their first full Major League season.

"We're all gearing up, and we know it's coming soon," Kuhl said. "It'll be here before we know it."

Adam Berry has covered the Pirates for MLB.com since 2015. Follow him on Twitter and Facebook, read his blog and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.