Wilk's scoreless start advances case for rotation spot

Wilk's scoreless start advances case for rotation spot

CLEARWATER, Fla. -- The Pirates have reached the point of running two Spring Training camps for pitchers: In one, those assured of jobs get ready for the season; in the other, those on the bubble get to fight for jobs.

The first takes place in Pirate City, where rotation locks started Minor League games last week and where Jason Grilli worked two innings on Sunday, following similar turns by Mark Melancon and Justin Wilson.

The second occurs in the Grapefruit League, where manager Clint Hurdle and pitching coach Ray Searage size up hopefuls against stiffer competition.

"We try to give guys trying to make the club a more competitive lineup to pitch against," Hurdle explained.

Adam Wilk stepped into that bubble Sunday without having it burst, starting against the Phillies and blanking them for three innings on two hits, setting up the Bucs' 5-0 whitewash.

"Just working on keeping the ball down, getting good movement on the ball, staying ahead," Wilk said. "I'm not a guy that blows it in the mid-90s, so I've got to keep the ball down. I have my pitches working, and it's going well right now."

Wilk has pitched 10 innings and allowed one run and seven hits with one walk and six strikeouts.

"He was very efficient again today," Hurdle said. "He's shown command of the fastball, used his cutter extremely well, and it was a good go-to pitch versus left-handed hitters. And he threw some good changeups and curveballs to right-handers. He's kept the ball down."

Wilk is also keeping his nose down, to the grindstone, as it were. He won't concern himself with trying to figure out where he stands in the pitching competition.

"Whatever happens will be nothing new to me," said the 26-year-old onetime Detroit prospect. "I'll just go out and pitch and prepare myself, and let the manager or whoever has that decision, make it."

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.