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"The fastball's real with some life," Hurdle said. "You saw downhill angle, extreme downhill angle."
The Pirates added Holmes, their No. 11 prospect according to MLBPipeline.com, to their 40-man roster in November to protect him from the Rule 5 Draft. The 23-year-old underwent Tommy John surgery in 2014, sat out most of 2015 and returned to pitch for Double-A Altoona last season.
Holmes finished 10-9 with a 4.22 ERA in 136 1/3 innings over 26 starts. He experienced the inconsistency that often follows Tommy John returnees in their first year back but found a comfort zone toward the end of the season.
"Getting back to that spot as quick as I can here in Spring Training has kind of been my goal," Holmes said. "That first year back, you have your peaks and valleys. When I picked up a ball this offseason, I finally started to feel like I could be athletic with my arm."
Holmes is at least a year away from making a run at the Pirates rotation, but it's not difficult to see why Pittsburgh values him. He showed it Monday. He fits their preferred profile as a big, hard-throwing right-handed starter who pounds the bottom of the strike zone.
"I felt great today. There was definitely some adrenaline and excitement being out there," Holmes said. "I feel like I handled that well and still stayed within myself and executed some pitches."
Around the horn
• Tyler Glasnow's dominant two-inning stint Sunday was the talk of Pirates camp on Monday. Tony Watson was pleased to hear Glasnow effectively used the slide-step he picked up from the closer -- the one Watson once learned from former Pirates closer Jason Grilli and bullpen coach Euclides Rojas.
Left-hander Steven Brault took to Twitter to compliment Glasnow, calling him "untouchable." Starter Chad Kuhl also raved about Glasnow's six-strikeout performance against the Orioles.
"That's what we've seen," Kuhl said. "If he adds that changeup, sky's the limit for him."
• Catcher Francisco Cervelli (right foot) has yet to play in a Grapefruit League game. Hurdle said it could happen "possibly soon."
• Catcher Chris Stewart is healthy but likely won't play during the first week of games, part of the plan to ease him into action following September knee surgery.