Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Homers Power Offense in Exhibition Opener against Tigers

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Homers Power Offense in Exhibition Opener against Tigers

Article excerpt

LAKELAND, Fla. - In Francisco Cervelli's first at-bat of the first Grapefruit League game of the season, he hit Matt Boyd's full-count offering near the top of the grassy hill past Joker Marchant Stadium's left-field fence.

"I was lucky, man," Cervelli said.

The Pirates began their spring training schedule Tuesday by beating the Detroit Tigers, 4-2. The hitters got their first chance to treat the exhibition games like they would in the regular season, a possible vaccine for another slow start. So far, it's going well: Cervelli went 1 for 3 with the homer and Jordy Mercer went 2 for 3 with a homer.

"We're going with full metal jacket from an offensive standpoint," manager Clint Hurdle said.

But Cervelli cautioned against pinning the Pirates' appearance in last season's wild-card game, rather than winning the NL Central and guaranteeing themselves a five-game series, on a bad month of April. He pointed to series losses against Milwaukee and Cincinnati later in the season.

"People worry about the way we start, but we won 98 games," he said. "In the middle of the season, we never think about that."

The offense faced two young pitchers the Tigers acquired at last year's trade deadline: Boyd, part of the David Price trade, and right-hander Michael Fulmer, who came to Detroit when Yoenis Cespedes was traded to the New York Mets. The Pirates got 10 hits, with players who will, or have a chance to, break camp with the major league club - Cervelli, Jordy Mercer, Jason Rogers, Matt Joyce and Cole Figueroa - combining for six of them.

"I think each guy's got to do their job," Cervelli said. "My job is get on base and hit my line drives. Everybody's got to do their own thing. That's how we can be successful. If we try to change who we are, it's going to be a problem. The team is really good. The guys, they work hard and battle every game. …

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