FORT MYERS, Fla. -- For those wanting to see what the 2013 Pirates will look like, Wednesday's lineup against the Red Sox came a lot closer to what the real deal will be on Opening Day than just about any lineup thus far in the Grapefruit League season.
The Pirates had what could be seven regulars in the starting lineup to face Red Sox lefty Jon Lester. The only exceptions were Michael McKenry behind the plate and Brandon Inge as the designated hitter. Expected starting catcher Russell Martin has been limited to DH duties because of a sore right shoulder.
The first six batters on the field at JetBlue Park could be what Pirates fans see at PNC Park regularly, with Starling Marte and Travis Snider hitting in front of Andrew McCutchen. Pedro Alvarez, Neil Walker and Garrett Jones started in the Nos. four, five and six spots, respectively, as they often did in 2012.
Prior to this game, McCutchen had picked up just seven official Spring Training at-bats as the Pirates, like many teams, are trying to pace their everyday players with the World Baseball Classic adding length to the spring schedule.
"It's good," McCutchen said of making the trip with a bus full of regulars. "We have everybody we normally put in the lineup. It's nice to be able to show up, to play a game on the road and get back into the swing of things."
Starting seven players who should see regular playing time -- Clint Barmes was the shortstop, hitting ninth -- is something that is going to start happening with more frequency as the calendar creeps towards Opening Day.
"We think it's time," manager Clint Hurdle said after the Pirates' 9-3 victory. "We'll start backing these guys up, bundling some games for them. Some of the guys who were out there [on Wednesday] will start again [on Thursday]. We'll get most of them back-to-back starts, then a day off.
"Spring Training is a little more complicated than when I played. Now we have night games, day games after night games, more split-squad games, but we're definitely going to start getting our guys out there that we need to get more reps from."