Roommates, competitors Brault, Williams throw zeros

Roommates, competitors Brault, Williams throw zeros

BRADENTON, Fla. -- Steven Brault and Trevor Williams were throwing partners this offseason, playing long toss and watching each other's bullpen sessions. They're living together this spring. They're competing for the same spot in the Pirates' rotation, too.

"We see too much of each other," Williams said, smiling.

So, of course, they took the mound one after the other to begin the Pirates' 6-2 win over the Orioles on Saturday afternoon at LECOM Park.

Brault tossed a scoreless first inning, striking out Craig Gentry and erasing his lone baserunner -- who reached on David Freese's error -- by getting Manny Machado to ground into a double play. Williams gave up two hits but struck out Trey Mancini and Anthony Santander to finish a scoreless second inning.

Both are competing with Drew Hutchison and Tyler Glasnow for the fifth spot in Pittsburgh's rotation, with Chad Kuhl likely to join Gerrit Cole, Jameson Taillon and Ivan Nova on the Opening Day staff. Their spring debuts were brief, but both were encouraged by their performance.

Brault caught Gentry looking at a fastball that clocked in at 94 mph on the stadium's radar gun. Earlier in the at-bat, he got Gentry to swing through a changeup.

"That's a feel pitch, so being able to throw a changeup where I want to early, it's nice," Brault said. "It's something to build on, for sure."

Williams focused on his fastball command with catcher Elias Diaz. He was pleased with that pitch and the depth of his slider, even in a short stint while he's still building arm strength.

"It was great. I haven't felt those competitive juices in a while," Williams said. "I know it's hard to replicate in the offseason, the competitive mindset. You do as much as you can, but when you're at a high school field, you can't really get the adrenaline rolling."

Around the horn
Gregory Polanco stole two bases and Starling Marte swiped one in the Grapefruit League opener. Manager Clint Hurdle said the Bucs planned to have Polanco and Marte run early and often, particularly while they are preparing for the World Baseball Classic.

"We've talked about our approach," Hurdle said. "They also want to get moving early because they've got things they want to get in place to be in good form when they do break for the WBC."

• Catcher Francisco Cervelli (right foot) participated in some catching drills in the bullpen early Saturday morning, and he ran on the field as head athletic trainer Todd Tomczyk watched. The Pirates would like to see Cervelli go through a full workout, and ideally play in a Grapefruit League game, before he leaves camp to play for Team Italy in the World Baseball Classic.

• While Taillon will start Sunday, Opening Day starter Cole will pitch two simulated innings.

Adam Berry has covered the Pirates for since 2015. Follow him on Twitter and Facebook, read his blog and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.