BRADENTON, Fla. (AP) – A quick pitch by Kevin Slowey sparked benches to empty in a rare testy spring training game.
Both teams rushed onto the field before the bottom of the fifth inning of the Pittsburgh’s 18-4 rout of Philadelphia on Monday when Phillies first base coach Juan Samuel and Pirates third base coach Rick Sofield began yelling at each other. Samuel and Sofield were ejected.
In a year when baseball is implementing new rules to speed the pace of games, the disagreement stemmed from when Slowey threw a quick pitch to Sean Rodriguez in the fourth inning. As players ran onto the field during the altercation, Pirates catcher Francisco Cervelli wrestled Rodriguez away from the scrum.
“It surprises me to be that upset, and challenging somebody to a physical altercation hardly seems like the best way to resolve your frustrations,” Slowey said. “I was kind of taken by surprise at his animosity after his at-bat. I know the kind of guy that he purports to be. That surprised me that that would be his choice of words and reaction. I guess I understand the frustration of a singular failure. It’s a game of failures. But to react that way to me was very surprising.”
Rodriguez and Sofield declined to comment.
“It gets late in the spring and guys’ patience levels might be a little bit short,” Pirates manager Clint Hurdle said. “Everybody just needs to move past it.”
Slowey stayed in the game and gave up four runs in the fifth.
In the sixth inning, Pirates manager Clint Hurdle was ejected by plate umpire Chad Fairchild for arguing a called strike to Andrew Lambo.
Pedro Alvarez homered twice, including a grand slam. Josh Harrison, Starling Marte, Tony Sanchez and Pedro Florimon also connected for the Pirates, who hit six home runs. Alvarez went 2 for 4 with three runs and six RBIs.
Josh Harrison, Starling Marte, Tony Sanchez and Pedro Florimon also homered for the Pirates.
Freddy Galvis had two hits, including a two-run homer, for the Phillies.
Phillies: Zach Eflin, the Phillies’ fourth-ranked prospect, was brought up from minor league camp to make the start. The right-hander worked three innings and gave up four runs – one earned – and three hits. Eflin, 20, went 10-7 with a 3.80 ERA at Class A last season. He was acquired by the Phillies in December as part of the trade that sent Jimmy Rollins to the Los Angeles Dodgers.
Pirates: Closer Mark Melancon pitched the first inning, as the Pirates concentrated on giving their relief pitchers some work. Melancon gave up a one-out single to Freddy Galvis, then struck out Cord Phelps and Ryan Howard on called third strikes.
Phillies: 3B Cody Asche returned to the lineup after missing four straight games due to back tightness. He went 1 for 2.
Pirates: OF Jaff Decker tested his strained left calf by taking some dry swings. He was injured Sunday while running out of the batter’s box. “I felt a twinge when it happened, but it feels pretty good today,” Decker said. Decker is vying with Andrew Lambo for the final bench job. … GM Neal Huntington indicated C Chris Stewart will begin the season on the disabled list due to a sore hamstring. “If we push it too aggressively, we turn two to four weeks into six to eight and that’s the last thing we want to do,” Huntington said.
BLACK AND GOLD
Pirates: Steelers coach Mike Tomlin visited camp and spoke informally with several Pirates players. Tomlin jokingly lobbied 6-foot-7 reliever Jared Hughes to consider playing tight end. “I’ll take Cutch, too,” Tomlin said, referring to Andrew McCutchen. “I’ll bet you he can settle under a punt.” Throughout the year, Tomlin often chats and swaps emails with Pirates manager Clint Hurdle. “He’s a guy who’s right-minded,” Tomlin said. “We share a lot of philosophical thoughts on how to lead men. It’s been fun to watch him develop these groups over the years and I’m excited to watch him do it again this year.”… Steelers lineman Maurkice Pouncey threw out the ceremonial first pitch. Pouncey, who grew up in nearby Lakeland, Fla., said he didn’t know Tomlin was at McKechnie Field until they bumped into each other while touring the facility.
Phillies: After losing five of their past six games (the other one was a tie), the Phillies will play the Toronto Blue Jays on Tuesday.
Pirates: RHP Vance Worley will start Tuesday against the Detroit Tigers. Monday, the Pirates announced Worley will begin the season in the bullpen because LHP Jeff Locke won the final open spot in the rotation.