BRADENTON, Fla. -- Joe Beimel has a total of three at-bats since 2006, and he hasn't laid down a sacrifice bunt since his last tour with the Pirates in 2002.
Yet, somehow, on Thursday, Beimel unofficially became the best bunting pitcher on the club. Beimel won the team's bunt contest, besting five others in the finals of an ongoing Spring Training competition. Kevin Correia was the leader before Beimel won it in a second-round "walk-off."
"I've had some good bunt instructors over the years," said Beimel, who doesn't consider himself the world's best at laying one down.
The entire team gathered on the infield grass and was genuinely into the competition, hooting and howling in support. Joel Hanrahan ran up to the plate and gave Beimel a chest bump after he won.
"Just gets everybody focused," manager Clint Hurdle said. "Everybody's got a shot, everybody's got a chance. ... You can hear the cheers and the oh's and the ooh's and the aahs."
Points are given out for each bunt that lands in a designated area, painted on the ground right in front of the plate. Keeping the ball within three small circles brings the most points.
There was, of course, a purpose to the drill beyond simple fun. Bunting has long been a lost art, and the Pirates were 11th out of 16 National League teams in sacrifice hits last season.
"You got to have pitchers who can handle the bat," Hurdle said. "It was a soft spot identified to me early in the interview process. They've heightened the awareness of it throughout the Minor League system already, and they'll continue to do so. It's just something you need to know how to do."
Olsen throws, Meek limited in workout
BRADENTON, Fla. -- Pirates left-hander Scott Olsen threw all fastballs in a 25-pitch bullpen session Thursday morning, and the southpaw said it went well.
Olsen felt tightness in his left hamstring one week ago. Pitching coach Ray Searage also said that Olsen did well in the early session, but that he was naturally a little rusty. Olsen said trainers still have him on a program and that he felt strong in his workout.
In other pitching news, the Pirates announced Thursday that right-hander Evan Meek has been limited the past two days because of minor tightness in his right calf.
2010 Spring Training - Pittsburgh Pirates
News & Features
- Bell excited about first Pirates opener in 17 years
- Hurdle keeps an eye on injury to Cubs' Barney
- First number, last word
- Locke heads into season with confidence high
- Pirates set to play Double-A affiliate in Altoona
Sights & Sounds
Spring Training Info
Kevin Correia, Ross Ohlendorf, Joel Hanrahan, Joe Beimel and Jose Veras threw bullpen sessions Thursday. ... Pedro Alvarez belted a home run in batting pratice off a palm tree in right field, and he hit nearly every other offering he swung at that round to at least the warning track. ... Still finding the best dynamic for himself and his coaches, Pirates manager Clint Hurdle said Thursday that he will leave most of the hands-on work with pitchers to their coach, Ray Searage. "The area that I do get involved in with pitchers is probably giving them an offensive viewpoint," Hurdle said. "Being a hitting coach guy before, most of our [pitchers] I've had to put a plan together on facing them." ... Hurdle also said Nick Leyva is an excellent fit to coach at third. "He's very good with the infielders, he's very good with baserunning. ... In doing the dynamic of who do you want in the dugout with you, I just know once the game starts that the coaches on the bases are very valuable."