Saturday, March 10, 2012

Camp Report

Ol' GW isn't a big believer in spring performances, especially a week into the games. We do like Clint Hurdle's approach to camp, though.

Like most of the other managers, he's sticking to a "get everyone some innings" approach early on. He's stacking the top of the order with regulars and letting the fringe guys fill in the bottom. It's tough to get a read on the regular season order that way, but that will clear up in a couple of weeks and it does get the everyday players an extra swing or two during the games.

Hurdle continues to work hard on getting his squad aggressive on the bases. That project has been a little on the ugly side so far, but at least he and third base coach Nick Leyva should have an idea of who to wave and who to hold once the games begin to count, and it should get the squad in a first-to-third state of mind.

The club is also pushing versatility. The middle infield candidates are getting looks at both second and short, while guys like Nick Evans and Matt Hague are being introduced to the hot corner. That's in keeping with the team philosophy and gives Hurdle a couple of more options during games.

While the pitching is usually behind the hitting at this point, the Pirates are showing some improvement early on with the lumber. They've gone five straight games with 10+ hits compiling a .313 BA, and Cutch is en fuega, squaring up on everything.

OF prospect Starling Marte has also been swinging a hot stick, putting together an eight hit streak. That's impressive even if grandma is on the hill. His caveat: he looks a little bewildered as a corner outfielder, and top gun or not, the odds of him bumping McCutch out of center, at least in the short term, are shorter than Sarah Palin's chances of being sworn in come January.

Josh Harrison is also off to a hot start, with 4 hits, including 3 doubles, in 7 AB.  Matt Hague doesn't look lost, either, with a .385 average, so he'll probably get a long look from the staff in his first MLB camp. So far, ten Bucs are hitting over .400 in the first week of games, which at least shows they came to camp ready to play.

Forget about a guess on the pitching. In seven games, 28 different guys have thrown and only one (J-Mac) has reached the five inning mark to date. That'll sort itself out shortly. The Bucs have already sent Gerrit Cole packing to minor league camp because of the innings available, and there will be a small posse joining him in the next few days.

The Bucs do have a couple of guys dinged up, always a spring concern. Along with AJ Burnett, the Bucs have a few guys who have limiting injuries - SS Gustav Nunez (ankle - 60 day DL), RHP Logan Kensing (abdominal strain) and C Jose Morales (oblique strain). 2B Neil Walker (back tightness), IF Josh Harrison (elbow bruise) and RHP Daniel Cabrera (forearm tightness) are day-to-day. There haven't been any reports regarding Charlie Morton, who appears to be a couple of weeks behind in his prep work.


WilliamJPellas said...

Too bad about Morales. I was hoping he'd displace McKenry as the backup C. Oblique injuries tend to linger a long time, so I'd be surprised if he beats out "The Fort". McKenry was a nice story last year and he does catch a good game, but he doesn't have a major league stick and that's all there is to it.

Ron Ieraci said...

Actually, Will, I did think Morales had a chance to challenge McKenry, but an oblique is a lingering injury and does hurt his chances to play considerably.

And Cutch's deal was under the radar, so the FO does do some smart things, like keeping negotiations mum. Heck, they've even learned to announce/leak them when successfully completed, quite an improvement over past years.