Bucs Spring Training Report 3/30

By Jason Shetler

The Pirates ended their last game in Bradenton today with a bang, as they pounded the Philadelphia Phillies by a final of 18-4.

Pedro Alvarez blasted a pair of home runs including a grand slam to give him six RBI.

Starling Marte and Tony Sanchez both hit two-run homers.

Josh Harrison and Pedro Florimon each had a solo home run.

Gregory Polanco went 3-for-4 with a double and drove in a pair of runs.

The Pirates will take on the Detroit Tigers in Lakeland tomorrow @ 1:05 ET.

Pirates Trying to Extend Gregory Polanco Again

By Jason Shetler

p/c: Charles LeClaire/ USA Today Sports

p/c: Charles LeClaire/ USA Today Sports

According to Jon Heyman of CBS Sports, the Pirates and Gregory Polanco have started talking about an extension. Heyman mentioned that both sides don’t want the discussions going long into the season.

The Pirates discussed an extension with Polanco about a year ago at this time. The offer was reportedly $75 million for up to ten years, with most of that money being non-guaranteed because of back loaded club options towards the end of the deal. The Miami Marlins recently signed outfielder Christian Yelich to a seven-year deal worth $49.5 million, so perhaps the Pirates could use that extension as a platform in terms of guaranteed money. Polanco struggled as a rookie last season, posting a .650 OPS, but certainly has the potential to become an All-Star caliber outfielder.

Rob Manfred No Longer Has Interest in Banning Defensive Shifts

By Jason Shetler

MLB commissioner Rob Manfred visited with the Pirates last Friday, and one of the things he mentioned was not considering the banning of defensive shifting.

“There’s a lot of conversation about the fact that offense is down,” Manfred said. “We haven’t even decided whether we an aberration or a trend that may require a remedy. Someone said, If and when you decide there is a problem, what might you be willing to consider?  In that context, I mentioned defensive shifts. Nothing more serious than that.”

Manfred caused quite a firestorm back in January when he said that he would consider eliminating defensive shifts from the game. In my opinion, that move would have made very little sense. The Pirates in particular have really relied on the defensive shifts since 2013. In fact, they shifted more than any other club in the National League last year with 875. That figure was 163 times more than the second most shifted team, which was the Milwaukee Brewers. There’s no doubt the defensive shifts have played a vital role in the Pirates being a contender the last two seasons.

Bucs Spring Training Report 3/29

By Jason Shetler

The Pirates on Sunday were 4-2 winners over the Atlanta Braves in Orlando.

Stolmy Pimentel got the start for the Bucs and tossed two scoreless innings.

Radhames Liz went three innings and allowed one run.

Antonio Bastardo and John Holdzkom each pitched a scoreless frame.

Jung-Ho Kang was 2-for-4 with a homer, a double and had three RBI.

Pirates top outfield prospect Austin Meadows went 1-for-4 with a triple and a run scored.

Pedro Florimon was 1-for-2 and drove in a run.

The Pirates will be in Bradenton tomorrow to take on the Philadelphia Phillies @ 1:05.

Pirates Should Wait to Use Charlie Morton in the Rotation

By Jason Shetler

p/c: Jonathan Dyer/USA Today Sports

p/c: Jonathan Dyer/USA Today Sports

A few days before the start of Spring Training, Pirates general manager Neal Huntington said that Charlie Morton would be ready come Opening Day. 

After Saturday’s outing against the Toronto Blue Jays, in which he pitched six innings and gave up three runs, Morton’s ERA on the Spring is at 6.46. While some people want to point to his less than stellar Spring numbers, it’s not the reason why he shouldn’t begin the season in the Pirates rotation. 

Morton during the offseason was recovering from hip surgery, his third different surgery in three years. He had the procedure done in late September, which would give him a better chance to not only pitch for the Pirates during Spring Training, but also be ready by Opening Day. While it’s great to see Morton back fully healthy, he has struggled this Spring. Again, it’s not really the numbers that concern me, but the fact that he’s working with a new delivery. Like any pitcher who tries to tinker with a new delivery, it obviously comes down to repetition and trying to be consistent with it. 

The Pirates won’t really need to use a fifth starter until April 24th, which would be a good timetable to insert Morton into the rotation. By that time, he should begin to feel more comfortable using the delivery while doing side sessions and simulated games leading up to that date. Also, having Morton in the rotation then, should prevent him from getting tired late in the season. The Pirates could also use him for multiple innings in the bullpen, in the event that the long reliever (Jeff Locke or Vance Worley) is unavailable to pitch. Morton will be owed $16 million over the next two seasons, so it would also be important for the Pirates to not be too aggressive with one of their vital investments. 

Bucs Spring Training Report 3/28

By Jason Shetler

The Pirates defeated the Toronto Blue Jays in Bradenton today by a final score of 8-3. 

Charlie Morton allowed three runs in six innings of work. 

Mark Melancon and Jared Hughes each tossed a scoreless inning. 

Francisco Cervelli went 2-for-4 with a triple, a double and scored a run. 

Andrew McCutchen also had a pair of hits including a double and a run scored. 

Gregory Polanco hit a two-run homer and was also hit by a pitch. 

Jordy Mercer walked three times and came around to score twice. 

Catcher and Pirates #5 prospect Reese McGuire had an RBI double in his very first Spring Training at-bat.

The Pirates will travel to Orlando tomorrow to square off against the Atlanta Braves @ 1:05 ET. 

Bucs Spring Training Report 3/27

By Jason Shetler

The Pirates today were 4-2 winners over the Minnesota Twins in Fort Myers. 

Jeff Locke pitched 5.2 innings, as he allowed just a couple runs. 

Gregory Polanco had a pair of hits including a towering home run for the first run of the game. 

Tony Sanchez blasted his third homer of the Spring. 

Starling Marte and Jaff Decker each had an RBI double. 

Jung-Ho Kang was 1-for-3 with a triple, a walk and scored a run. 

The Pirates are in Bradenton tomorrow to host the Toronto Blue Jays @ 1:05 ET.