SARASOTA, Fla. -- The Pirates beat Baltimore in shifts on Wednesday. The starting lineup overcame an early Orioles edge and rallied the Bucs into a 7-5 lead.
Then the reserves swung away for the 11-5 final. Starling Marte, Matt Hague and Eric Fryer all got into the act, and Josh Harrison was the show-stopper, going 2-for-2 with a two-run triple.
It was a performance to reinforce manager Clint Hurdle's feeling that his bench will play a major role in the team's success.
"I'm very optimistic that our bench will have more experience, will be versatile and will be better than at any time last year," Hurdle said.
Competition for seats on that bench has been hot, and there is no cooling in sight: Harrison, an incumbent, is hitting .600 (6-for-10), Fryer is 4-for-11, Hague is 6-for-17, Yamaico Navarro is 6-for-18. The hottest remains the guy ruled out of the competition, Marte, whose 1-for-2 game jacked his average up to .556. The club is committed to having him at least start the season at Triple-A.