CLEARWATER, Fla. – A.J. Burnett started against his former Pittsburgh teammates, giving up one run in two innings Sunday as the Pirates beat the Philadelphia Phillies 4-1.
Burnett allowed one hit, struck out one and took the loss in his spring training debut. He went 10-11 with a 3.30 ERA last year in helping pitch the Pirates back into the playoffs, then signed as a free agent with the Phillies last month.
Josh Harrison homered for the Pirates in the sixth off Antonio Bastardo. Pittsburgh also hit three doubles, including top prospect Gregory Polanco’s shot off Burnett in the first.
Pirates starter Stolmy Pimentel threw two scoreless innings. He made five appearances in the majors last year and is projected to start the season in Pittsburgh’s rotation. Pimentel came to the Pirates a year ago in the trade for Joel Hanrahan.
Phillies: Burnett spent the last two years with the Pirates before signing a one-year, $16 million deal with the Phillies Feb. 11, providing much-needed pitching depth for Ryne Sandberg’s squad.
“It felt good. Felt better in the first (inning),” said the 37-year-old Burnett. “That first time sitting down and getting back up, it makes you realize how old you are.”
Pirates: Pimentel allowed one hit and struck out one. Pimentel, 24, is out of options, meaning the Pirates could lose him on the waiver wire if he doesn’t make the 25-man roster out of camp.
“Not his sharpest stuff. Made pitches and stayed aggressive,” Pirates manager Clint Hurdle said. “We’re going to take a handful of guys to three (innings) and 50 (pitches), then decided if there’s a couple we take to four and more. He’s definitely in that mix. We’ll continue to stretch him out as long as there are innings available.”
Phillies third baseman Cody Asche bruised his hand Sunday after getting hit by a pitch in the third inning. A postgame ultrasound indicated there were no broken bones, and Asche will be re-evaluated Monday morning. Asche, 23, made his major league debut last season and is the front-runner to win the Phillies’ third-base job.
“He got hit pretty good,” Sandberg said. “Just a bruise, so that’s a good thing.”
Jonathan Papelbon had a noticeable decrease in velocity last season, one of the worst of his nine-year career. Papelbon has topped out around 95 mph in his career, but dipped to 90 by the end of 2013. He made his first appearance of the spring Sunday, and registered 93 mph on the radar gun.
“It looked like it had some giddy-up on it,” Phillies pitching coach Bob McClure said. “That was good to see.”