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Spring Training Update, 4/3

The Pirates wrapped up their spring training slate today, falling 4-3 to the Phillies. The loss concluded a miserable 7-21 exhibition schedule that bodes poorly for the 2010 campaign. While some players, like Andrew McCutchen, Lastings Milledge and Delwyn Young solidified their roles on the team with excellent springs, the results were grisly for other expected contributors:

- Andy LaRoche: hit .245 with a .712 OPS in 49 ABs, striking out 11 times. His spring numbers ensure that when Pedro Alvarez arrives at the big league level, he will displace LaRoche at third.

- Ross Ohlendorf: five starts, a ghastly 9.61 ERA and a 2.08 WHIP. Nothing went well for Ross the Boss after an offseason spent interning for the U.S. Department of Agriculture. His spot in the rotation is not in danger, but a significant amount of the Pirates' success this year will depend on the consistency of the starting pitching, and the team needs more out of Ohlendorf.

- Kevin Hart: an astronomic 15.43 ERA with 13 walks in only 4 2/3 innings. Hart came into camp as management's favorite for the 5th rotation spot, but played his way out of a major league job as well and into the front office's doghouse with his wildness.

- The shortstops: .268/.286/.439 triple-slash line for Ronny Cedeno; .239/.300/.500 for Bobby Crosby; .176/.243/.176 for Ramon Vazquez. While Crosby displayed some unusual power, it appears that the Pirates' middle infield will be a tremendous liability both offensively and defensively.

Sub-par performances from Garrett Jones, Ryan Doumit and Ryan Church are also worrisome, though their spring numbers are certainly no cause for panic. The biggest need for the PBC, obviously, is offense. But aside from Alvarez, opportunities for dramatic improvement in run scoring are few. Sometimes, it's unwise to put to much stock into the exhibition season. But in this instance, it's reasonable and perhaps realistic to expect similar results from the Pittsburgh Pirates in the 2010 regular season.