Caminero has opened eyes at Pirates' camp

Right-hander competing with Holdzkom for spot in bullpen

Caminero has opened eyes at Pirates' camp

BRADENTON, Fla. -- There is heated competition throughout the Pirates' Spring Training camp, but the best is between John Holdzkom and Arquimedes Caminero.

In his inning of work Thursday against the Red Sox, Caminero put up a fifth-inning zero, bringing his spring line to four innings of two-hit pitching, with one walk and seven strikeouts.

Holdzkom sees that, and calls with one hit allowed in three innings, with no walks and four whiffs.

Capping the Pirates' busy offseason, Caminero was the last man through the door, acquired for cash considerations on Feb. 4 from the Marlins. Like Holdzkom, he has been plagued by control issues throughout his career. Like Holdzkom, he appears to have gotten over that in a Pirates uniform.

"He's opened eyes," manager Clint Hurdle said. "The velocity gets your attention, but he needs to throw strikes. He's one of the guys who's come in and shown plus-velocity and thrown strikes -- and that'll get anybody's attention."

The Bucs could keep both Holdzkom and Caminero, except for these reasons: They are similar pitchers ideal for the same role, and there is only one vacant seat in the seven-man bullpen. That is, if you concede reservations to Mark Melancon, Jared Hughes, Tony Watson, Antonio Bastardo, Radhames Liz and the short man in the Vance Worley-Jeff Locke rotation battle.

"Power stuff is power stuff," general manager Neal Huntington said, not ruling out the possibility of both being on the staff. "I'm just glad we don't have to make that decision in the next few days."

So one thing is definite: The Bucs are expected to make their first roster cuts coming out of this weekend, and neither Caminero nor Holdzkom will be involved.

The Bucs do not employ a radar gun on pitchers in McKechnie Field, so the only way to measure Caminero's flame on Thursday was this: He came on to face the heart of Boston's lineup, and nobody could pull him.

Not David Ortiz, who flied softly to left field. Not Hanley Ramirez, who grounded out to second. Not Pablo Sandoval, who, batting left-handed, did single to left field. And not Mike Napoli, who struck out.

Tom Singer is a reporter for MLB.com and writes an MLBlog Change for a Nickel. Follow him on Twitter @Tom_Singer. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.