Roberto Hernandez made a strong debut for the Tampa Bay Rays. Jeff Locke did the same for Pittsburgh.
Hernandez needed just 12 pitches for a perfect first inning Saturday in the Pittsburgh Pirates' 3-2 win over a split squad of Rays.
Formerly known as Fausto Carmona, Hernandez was 0-3 with a 7.53 ERA last season for Cleveland.
Hernandez and Jeff Niemann are aiming for the fifth spot in the Rays' rotation. Niemann needed just 11 pitches to strike out two and retire the side in the second.
"I don't waste too many of my thoughts on (it being a competition)," Hernandez said. "I don't think of it that way."
Hernandez signed with the Rays in the offseason after being arrested after leaving the Dominican Republic U.S. Consulate, which accused him of using a false identity to obtain a visa.
Niemann relieved Hernandez in the second and needed just 11 pitches to strike out two and retire the side. Reliever Fernando Rodney pitched the third, striking out the side.
Rodney, who will be leaving soon to join the Dominican Republic for the World Baseball Classic, needed just 10 pitches -- nine of them strikes -- in his appearance.
"That's what I wanted: to pitch a couple of innings and not do too much," Rodney said.
Locke pitched three hitless innings. He went 10-5 with Triple-A Indianapolis last year, and is competing for the fifth rotation spot with fellow prospect Kyle McPherson. He was chosen the organization's minor league pitcher of the year, said he was pleased with his effective 32-pitch outing and knows competing with McPherson will be tough, especially with a close friend.
"I've known Kyle a long time -- he was here when I was traded here (from Atlanta in 2009) and he made me very comfortable," the 25-year-old lefty said. "I'll tell you what I've told everyone who's asked me: they're going to take the best 25 guys for the team. It may be Kyle, it may be me, it may be both of us, but I know we're both going to work hard and appreciate the opportunity."
Manager Joe Maddon thought all his pitchers looked sharp for the first spring training game.
"I just want to make sure they are well," Maddon said. "Roberto's ball looked like it had great movement, and Jeff's had a lot of deception on his (slider). I saw strikes and deception with both of them."
FOX 13 / WTVT-TV
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