Lineup: The starting position gang appeared set going into camp, with Gregory LF, Starling CF, Cutch RF, JHK 3B, Jordy SS, J-Hay 2B, Josh Bell 1B & Fran C. Things change. The two primary bench guys, John Jaso and David Freese, are likely to see a lot more action now. JJ cold see some OF time but should earn considerable work at first until Bell can bring some leather to the position, and Freeser is the defacto hot corner guy until Kang gets his ducks in line. Another interesting question is how much time Adam Frazier will see at second; his bat has been smokin' from the leadoff spot this spring and would free up Josh for a more S-Rod type role if Fraze sees some real time in the lineup.
|Fraze is trying to stick his way into some serious playing time (photo Pittsburgh Pirates)|
Bench: Stew, Adam Frazier, Freeser and JJ are set; Phil Gosselin appears to have the edge for the final spot. There will be one extra opening with JHK on ice for the time being. Alen Hanson is the front-runner, with Jose Osuna making a strong push. Hansen is out of options and is versatile, while Jose has been scorching the ball but can be sent down safely and is a 1B/OF by trade, which is sort of a logjam position for the pine squad right now. This group leaves the Bucs without a true glove guy in the middle (Gift Ngoepe would be a natural, but w/10 K in 23 AB...) and a fourth outfielder, so we'll see if they choose to address those issues or carry on with what they've got.
Starting Pitchers: Cole Train, Ivan Nova, JT and Cool Chad have solidified their spots; the final slot is coming down to a Drew Hutchison/Steven Brault decision. Both have had strong camps; the coin flip may be decided by Hutch being out of options while Brault can be shipped back to Indy. Then again, Steven represents the only LHP available, so we'll see... AAA Indianapolis should have a nice rotation, with Tyler Glasnow, Nick Kingham, Trevor Williams, Clay Holmes & Brault/Hutch, with Josh Lindblom lurking from the bullpen, so the rotation will have some depth. All but Tyler, who still needs work on command and control, have had promising camps.
|Gerrit Cole is the staff 's main man (photo Dave Arrigo/Pirates)|
Bullpen: The pen is set at the back and bridge ends. Tony Watson, Felipe Rivero, Daniel Hudson, Juan Nicasio & Antonio Bastardo have had solid springs. Jared Hughes, like last year, had been a training camp dumpster fire but seems to have Clint's confidence as a mid-inning fireman. If that holds true, there's one open spot. Wade LeBlanc and AJ Shugel had problems, leaving a possible opening for Rule 5 pick Tyler Webb. Jason Lakind and Edgar Santana have looked strong among the pups and may see action sometime in 2017.
Yesterday's Game: Tyler Glasnow was rocked yesterday, making it look like he's Indy-bound. Let's hope he's keeping a notebook and learning from his camp experience. Despite his poor outing, the Bucs rallied to tie the game at sixes in the ninth before Adam Jones' walk-off double v Dovydas Neverauskas ended the match in favor of the Bravos, 7-6. Fraze had four hits and Phil Gosselin added three; Alen Hanson chipped in with a pair. Pirates baserunning and fielding left something to be desired, not a good sign as we head toward the games the count.
|Phil Gosselin trying to lock down the final bench spot (photo Dave Arrigo/Pirates)|
- Jung Ho Kang is appealing his DUI sentence. It's reported that he's trying to get it down to a fine, which would help him in his work papers process. The saga continues...
- Italy's WBC run is done, so Fran should be on his way back to camp.
- Another Pirates preview: Get More Sports picks the Bucs to be an 80-82 win club in 2017.
- Gerrit Cole tossed four innings (67 pitches) of a sim game yesterday; Felipe Rivero & Tyler Webb also worked a frame (12 pitches) each.