BRADENTON, Fla. — With Michigan football coach Jim Harbaugh moonlighting as their first base coach, a split squad of Detroit Tigers scored four runs in the first inning Wednesday and beat the Pittsburgh Pirates 10-3.
Wearing a grey Tigers road uniform with No. 4 — his number when he was a Wolverines quarterback in the mid-1980s — stitched on the jersey, Harbaugh coached the first three innings. After being replaced by Alan Trammell, Harbaugh watched the game from the dugout.
"What a big thrill, just to be at a big league (spring training) park, being in the locker room, in the skipper’s office," Harbaugh said.
Michigan is working out this week at IMG Academy in Bradenton.
Harbaugh presented the lineup card to the umpires at home plate before the game.
On the field, he positioned himself several feet behind the coach's box.
"My main concern is having nobody picked off first base," said Harbaugh, who coached first base for the Oakland A's in a spring game last year. "And then, secondly, don't get hit by a line drive."
About 75 Michigan players and staff came to watch. Pirates manager Clint Hurdle, who grew up in Michigan as a Wolverines fan, met with Harbaugh and the players before the game.
Hurdle had no problem with Harbaugh sticking on the Tigers' side when the game began.
"He's a Michigan guy," Hurdle said, grinning. "It get it. We're good."
Last season, Harbaugh threw out a ceremonial pitch at Comerica Park. The crowd in Detroit was several thousand fans larger than the one at McKechnie Field, where a steel-drum band played on the concourse and sea gulls dive-bombed the bleachers for stray snacks.
"I was more nervous when I threw out the first pitch," Harbaugh said.
Jose Iglesias and Jarrod Saltalamacchia each hit an RBI double off Pirates starter Jeff Locke. Saltalamacchia hit a solo home run in the sixth.
Pirates: Locke worked two innings and allowed four runs on four hits. He walked one and hit one batter. It was the first time Locke used an over-the-head delivery.
"I really like the new delivery," Locke said. "I know the results say something different, but I feel so much better on the mound. I left some pitches up, but that's going to happen. I'm around the zone and where I need to be."
Tigers: RHP Buck Farmer worked two innings and gave up one run on one hit and two walks.
Pirates: SS Jung Ho Kang (leg) will ramp up his on-field activities this week, according to athletic trainer Todd Tomczyk. However, Kang has not yet been cleared for baserunning. . LHP Cory Luebke (hamstring) threw off the mound and was cleared to return to full workouts. . LHP Robert Zarate has been shut down due to left arm discomfort.
Pirates: LHP Jon Niese will make his Pirates debut on Thursday against Toronto. The Pirates acquired Niese in December from the New York Mets for 2B Neil Walker. RHP Ryan Vogelsong, who last pitched for the Pirates in 2006, also will pitch two innings.
Tigers: LHP Daniel Norris will start on Thursday against the Atlanta Braves.
WHAT'S UP, DOC?
Pirates: NBC Sports national hockey announcer Mike "Doc" Emrick will do some play-by-play Thursday on the radio broadcast of the game against the Blue Jays. Emrick also call a few innings on the Root Sports telecast on March 9 against the Red Sox.
A longtime Pirates fan, Emrick plans to wear his black-and-gold cap in the booth.
"I'm not allowed to cheer during the network (hockey) games," he said. "But for this one, I am."