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Confidence is best tonic


BRADENTON, Fla. — Pedro Alvarez today picked up his first hit of spring training, an opposite-field, solo home run in the Pirates’ 8-6 loss against the Blue Jays. Alvarez drove an outside fastball from right-hander Kyle Drabek over the left field wall. In the sixth, Alvarez lined a single to right field. “Whenever you can square up a couple balls in the game, it’s a good thing,” Alvarez said. “I’ve just got to keep it going, keep the consistency and the good at-bats. The results will take care of themselves. It feels really good to have a good day. That’s what we’re working for.”

Manager Clint Hurdle said too much was made about Alvrez’s 0-for-5 start, which included three strikeouts. “We weren’t making a lot out of it,” Hurdle said. “Nobody’s bothered me on the street about it. Out on Anna Maria Island, they don’t even know about it. We need to give guys some time. He kept working … and some progress was made today. A little confidence is the best elixer for anybody. We’ll see what tomorrow brings. He’s just got to trust all the work he’s put in.”

»»» Starling Marte hit a two-run homer — his seventh consecutive hit. Marte is 8 for 11 overall this spring. “Seven straight hits is a lot,” manager Clint Hurdle said. “He looks very, very confident at the plate. He’s put the ball on the ground with a bunt, he’s swung the bat and drove the ball.”

»»» Hurdle praised Jeff Karstens’ performance (three scoreless innings, two hits, one strikeout): “Thirty-five pitches in three innings. Threw all his pitches. Used his fastball to both sides of the plate. Spun the ball extremely well. Good changeups, good cutter. Very, very good command.”

»»» Josh Harrison filled in for Neil Walker (tight lower back) and doubled in both of his at-bats. Harrison, who missed one game after being hit on the elbow by a pitch, has reached base safely in six of his first seven plate appearances.

»»» Here’s a nice little item from the NY Times about reliever Ryota Igarashi, who doesn’t seem to mind too much that the clubhouse folks can’t spell his first name.



  1. Bob says:

    Wasted money on Cutch, sorry to say. Marte is cheaper and will be as good as an all-around player.

  2. Jeremy says:

    What’s wrong with having two players that are that good?

  3. Jay Walker says:

    You nailed it, Bob.

  4. Ryan (Nor-Cal Stlrfanrc) says:

    Both are wrong……You need to CFers in PNC, Marte goes to left.

  5. Lady Di says:

    Ryan: Marte is the best centerfielder in the organization. Even Huntington says so. C’mon, do some homework.

  6. L.A. PiratesFan says:

    u guys are idiots if u think Cutch was a waste of money, he’s a top 5 centerfielder in the league and he’s they type of player/leader the Pirates need to continue to build around as they move up from the cellar….its guys like u (lady di, jay, bob) that continue to foster negative sentiment around the Pirates even in the midst of the team making positive movements to be better and stop this God-awful 19 year losing streak…go somewhere and root for another team, how bout dem K.C. Royals? it looks like they could use some of your pessimistic energy!

  7. Jim EastTn says:

    2012 Presley in left, McCutchen in center, Tabata right (79 wins) (Marte AAA )
    2013 Marte in center Mcutchen in left, Tabata in right, Presley 4th. (84 wins)
    2014 Marte, McCutchen, Grossman, Tabata 4th-Presley traded (division pennant??)

  8. John Lease says:

    Wow, down on McCutchen after exactly zero real at bats with the new contract? That has to be a record.

  9. Nate says:

    Here’s a thought, what about actually having two star outfielders? I mean I realize that this is the Buccos we are talking about, but there is no MLB rule saying you can’t have both McCutchen and Marte.

  10. Jeff says:

    You have to me kidding me guys are we seriously going to say 8.5 million a year for one of the best center fields in the game is a bad deal. Get a life.

    By the way you can have McCutchen and Marte in the same lineup Bob.

  11. Black n Gold (not yellow) says:

    I don’t comment on this stuff very much, but it’s amazing how some Pittsburgh sports “fans” find everything to complain about.

    “The Pirates draft for money, not talent.” Nutting assumes control, Huntington comes in, and they start drafting guys based on talent. They spend more money than any team in baseball in the draft.

    “Well, the Pirates are cheap. They won’t keep Major Leaguers.” Now that they have an established All Star player, Nutting and shelled out $51 million for McCutchen. They also locked up Jose Tabata and will likely do the same with Neil Walker. They also made repeated attempts to bring in free agents with $10+ million dollar free agents culminating with a $13 million investment in AJ Burnett (all bad luck aside).

    Now it’s, “McCutchen isn’t that good. Marte should be in center field.” MLB evaluators, coaches, and scouts routinely call McCutchen a top of the line defensive centerfielder.

    And, ridiculously enough, it’s not just with the Pirates. Fans did it with Bruce Arians even though the Steelers went to two Super Bowls with him as the OC. Fans have even criticized the new Mario Lemieux statue because it didn’t capture “the right moment”.

    I get it. Every person is entitled to their own opinions. I just find it amusing that it’s usually the same ones always complaining.

  12. Paul says:

    You can debate whether Marte is as good or even better defensive centerfielder thanMcCutchen but the suggestion he is or ever be a better all-round players in silliness bordering on lunacy.

    Marte was 22 last season and playing in AA where he showed very poor plate discipline (22bb to 100so in 558 plate appearances while hitting 12 home runs, 8 triples and stealing 24 bases while getting caught 12 times…

    At the same age McCutchen was in the Majors already showing EXCELLENT plate discipline (54bb to 83so in 487 plate appearances) hit 12 home runs, 9 triples and stole 22 bases while only caught 5 times … AFTER and equally impressive effort at AAA to start the season.

    Andrew McCutchen is already an impact player and one of the top five hitters in the majors at his position and well on his way to being an elite one (especially if Clint Hurdle and the Pirates ever wake up and put him in the lead off spot where he belongs) While Starling Marte has shown little in the minors thus far to even suggest he’ll reach McCutchen’s level.

    Hopefully Marte develops into a decent major league player but it is not a sure thing by any stretch of the imagination and unless he learns to hit better he’ll never approach McCutchen.

  13. Paul says:

    @John Lease, doesn’t seem they’re as down on McCutchen as they are unrealistically high on Marte who is benefiting from a lot of front office hype that his numbers in the minors don’t really support to this point.

    Can’t really comment on the defense but Marte has a long way to go before he can legitimately claim a roster spot in the majors let alone be compared to McCutchen.

  14. Black n Gold (not yellow) says:

    “unless he learns to hit better he’ll never approach McCutchen”

    Paul, I have to argue this point because Marte’s numbers coming through the minors are cumulatively better than McCutchen’s were.

    McCutchen posted a line of .286, .362, .423, .785 (avg, OBP, SLG, OPS) with 96, 22, 43 (doubles, triples, HR) in 511 games.

    Starling Marte posts a line of .309, .366, .453, .820 (avg, OBP, SLG, OPS) with 80, 21, 27 (doubles, triples, HR) in 364 games.

    Marte also has more stolen bases with a similar success:failure rate.

    The only legitimate concern is Marte’s strikeout rate because guys who strike out a lot in the minors are generally more likely to struggle in the majors. But in regards to your larger point, it’s really hard to defend your statement when the overall statistical evidence supports Marte being a very good hitter.

  15. Paul says:

    @Black n Gold

    The only reason those lines compare that way is because McCutchen was singed and started playing pro ball two years earlier (age wise) than Marte did and had less experience. Marte faced his first pro competition at age 20 in low A ball while at the same age McCutchen was had already spent time at both AA and AAA in 2007.

    You’re comparing five minor league seasons for McCutchen to three for Marte so while a comparison without context looks favorable to Marte the reality is MCutchen’s results are against a much higher level of competition than Marte’s are.

    Again, Marte is now 23 and just entering AAA ball while at the same age McCutchen is entering his beginning his second full season in the majors with one under his belt that matches or exceeds anything Marte has done in the minors to this point.

    Not saying he won’t do it but, but Marte has a loooong way to go before he can be compared favorably to McCutchen.

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