PORT CHARLOTTE, Fla. -- Kevin Correia said he isn't pitching for the Pirates' Opening Day assignment. But Correia is pitching like he does not want to give it up.
Correia blanked Tampa Bay on two hits in a three-inning start Sunday during which he threw "everything pretty much where I needed it."
The outing extended his scoreless spring to five innings, a modest stretch, yet one that could certainly have him in consideration to reprise his Opening Day assignment of 2011.
"That's not really something I look toward. I'm just trying to get ready for the season," Correia said. "Getting to do it last year was a great thing to do, and I was really happy being able to have that opportunity."
Intentional or not, the competition for the privilege of facing the Phillies on April 5 at PNC Park could become quite entertaining. It already is, with four-fifths of the rotation (Erik Bedard, James McDonald, Jeff Karstens and Correia) having thus far posted a combined ERA of 2.50 in Grapefruit League play.
The last fifth -- excluding reconditioning A.J. Burnett -- will make his exhibition debut on Monday, as Charlie Morton is due to work two innings against the Phillies.
"We're kicking the training wheels off him," manager Clint Hurdle said. "He's looking forward to it."