BRADENTON, Fla. (AP) — Matt Hague is forcing the Pittsburgh Pirates to make a difficult decision near the end of spring training.
Trying to win the final spot on the Pirates’ bench, Hague had two hits, including a two-run homer, in a 3-3 tie against the Tampa Bay Rays on Friday.
The game was called after nine innings because both teams ran out of pitchers.
Hague also doubled and is batting .383 this spring. He has 13 hits in his past 31 at-bats and leads the team with five homers.
“They told me at the beginning that I had a chance to make the club,” Hague said. “I’m just trying to really show them what I’ve got.”
Hague hit .309 with 12 homers last season at Triple-A Indianapolis. He led the International League in hits (165), at-bats (534) and games (141).
The Pirates have not yet decided whether to carry seven or eight relievers when they break camp. Because of days off, the team will not need a fifth starter until April 15.
If it’s a seven-man bullpen, Hague and fellow infielders Josh Harrison and Yamaico Navarro will make the opening day roster as backups. But if there are only two open bench spots, Hague could end up back at Indianapolis.
“All three of those guys have done well,” Pirates manager Clint Hurdle said. “Matt’s swinging the bat as well as anybody in camp — against left-handed pitching, against right-handed pitching, with extra-base hits. He’s really taken good ownership of his at-bats.”
Instead of a starting pitcher, the Pirates used five relievers in the game. Brad Lincoln, who has a chance to make the team as a long reliever, worked two innings and gave up Jose Molina’s three-run double.
Left-hander Matt Moore, who appears to have won a spot in the Rays’ starting rotation, worked six innings and allowed one run and three hits. He walked one and struck out three.
“I definitely needed to get 90 pitches out of my body today,” Moore said. “We fell behind some hitters, but we were able to get to six innings, get up and down six times and get 90 pitches, so it was nice.”
For Moore, who’s ranked the second-best prospect by Baseball America, it was his best outing of the spring.
“He had a really good, live fastball,” Rays manager Joe Maddon said. “At the end, he threw some good changeups, threw some good curveballs. I like everything about him. Very composed as he normally is.”
Notes: The Pirates told RP Juan Cruz, a non-roster invitee, he will be on the opening day roster. They have until Tuesday to make a corresponding move to get him on the 40-man roster. … Pirates 3B Pedro Alvarez went to minor league camp to get extra-at bats for the second time in three days. Alvarez is batting .167 and has struck out 20 times in 42 at-bats.
Copyright 2012 The Associated Press.