BRADENTON, Fla. -- Josh Kinney's spring got even better on Friday. The boyhood Pirates fan from northern Pennsylvania entered the exhibition game in the ninth inning with none out and the bases loaded of Phillies -- all the runners needed to wipe out the Bucs' two-run lead -- and he preserved a 6-5 victory.
Kinney, however, did not get any younger. And being a couple weeks shy of his 35th birthday, neither the grand escape nor the fact he has been scored upon only twice in six outings shorten his odds of making the bullpen.
However Kinney's "dream" spring turns out, it doesn't mean he hasn't already been valuable.
Pirates manager Clint Hurdle only hopes his younger pitchers have paid attention to Kinney at the right time ... such as when Hurdle waved him to the mound after Yao-Hsun Yang had walked two batters and hit one to load the bases.
Hurdle: "This is right up your alley."
Kinney, with a big smile on his face: "Let's go. This is going to be good."
Ronny Cedeno hit an infield pop. Cesar Hernandez walked on a full-count pitch to force in a run. Then Wil Nieves high-bounced into a third-to-first double play to end it.
"He has a passion for the game that's probably unparalleled in that clubhouse -- and there are a lot of passionate people in there," Hurdle said of Kinney. "He's got bright eyes, big ears and is getting things done with a smile on his face and loving every minute of it.
"For those guys to see a man that's been around the block a couple of times still have that kind of enthusiasm ... it's infectious."
Tom Singer is a reporter for MLB.com and writes an MLBlog Change for a Nickel. He can also be found on Twitter @Tom_Singer. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.