BRADENTON, Fla. — The Grapefruit League opener is in eight days. Manager Clint Hurdle has been tinkering with lineups, but doesn’t want to tip his hand.
“We’ve had talks about lineups for a month and running,” he said. “I’m thinking about it, but no pens have been (used). All pencil work, so far.”
The biggest question is, where will Andrew McCutchen hit?
“In the past, I’ve tried to have the best hitter on the team hit third,” Hurdle said. “We’ve got a number of guys we’re talking about for that. And you don’t want to be a slave to a guy’s comfort level, but some guys have a history of performing better in some places than in others. So, it’s all taken into account.”
For what it’s worth, here are McCutchen’s career numbers:
Batting 1st: 849 plate appearances, .283 average, .831 OPS
Batting 2nd: 76 plate apps, .279 average, .723 OPS
Batting 3rd: 219 plate apps, .302 average, .824 OPS
»»» Left-hander Scott Olsen pulled his left hamstring this morning while running a fielding drill and likely will miss Friday’s workouts. “It’s just a little tweak,” Olsen said. “It’s nothing. A little cramp. I just need to drink more water.”
It’s not uncommon for cramps to pop up more frequently when the weather heats up. Today was a sunny day with the temp creeping up toward 80 degrees.
»»» If righty Charlie Morton gets the No. 5 starter job instead of Olsen, there will be just one lefty in the rotation. But that doesn’t seem to bother Hurdle. “We’re looking for starters who can get outs and pitch deep in games,” Hurdle said. “I’ve had teams that have had (lefties) and teams that haven’t had ‘em. You go with your best five guys and see where it takes you.”
»»» Outfielders Alex Presley and John Bowker checked in this morning and participated in workouts. Shortstop Ronny Cedeno and pitcher Jose Ascanio are expected to arrive tonight. That would leave only non-roster infielder Brian Friday, who is expected to arrive Friday.
»»» Players spent time working on slug-bunts, part of Hurdle’s plan to scrape up runs by any means necessary. “We’re going to have to rely on the skill sets we have — speed, surprise, variety,” Hurdle said. “We’ll take some chances. We’re not going to sit back and try to hit three-run homers.”