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Alvarez back in lineup

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BRADENTON, Fla. — After sitting out the past three games with a sore left knee, Pedro Alvarez will be back in the lineup tonight against the Orioles. In fact, the lineup looks a lot like I’d expect it to be on Opening Day.

Yesterday, GM Neal Huntington gave Alvarez a rather powerful vote of confidence, saying the third baseman’s hitting woes will not net him a trip back to Indy to start the season. I took note when Huntington said Alvarez “did what he needed to do this offseason; he’s in good physical shape.” Alvarez turned down the Pirates’ suggestions that he play winter ball and instead worked out in California with a personal trainer.

“I have a little more flexibility in my swing and I’m able to stay through some balls and let the ball get deep,” Alvarez said. “It’s (about being) not so tense because (that’s when) all your muscles are so tight and wound up. I get that whip and can really use my hands, and separate my bigger pec muscles and back muscles and … ” Alvarez paused and laughed. “I’m getting a little too technical,” he said.

Alvarez also added a toe tap to his swing as a timing mechanism, and has admitted it’s taken a while to feel comfortable with the new mechanics. “He uses it to gather himself, get himself in a position where he feels athletic,” manager Clint Hurdle said. “When that front foot hits the ground, he needs to be in a good foundation, with his hands in a strong position, to get to the ball and stay through it.”

»»» Righty Chris Resop will start tomorrow against the Phillies. Joel Hanrahan (who pitched earlier today in a camp game at Pirate City) Daniel Moskos and Ryota Igarashi also are scheduled to pitch. Jeff Karstens will start a minor league game at Pirate City. it’s likely set up that way so Karstens can work deep into the game to build arm strength, while the relievers can get in their work in the other game.

»»» There were 1,655 votes cast in the Trib fan poll, which asked you to ID the greatest center fielder in Pirates history. The final results: 1. Andy Van Slyke (634 votes, 38 percent), 2. Lloyd Waner (336 votes, 20 percent), 3. Bill Virdon (253 votes, 15 percent), 4. Al Oliver (101 votes, 6 percent), 5. Omar Moreno (89 votes, 5 percent), 6. Andrew McCutchen (79 votes, 5 percent), 7. Max Carey (67 votes, 4 percent), 8. Matty Alou (60 votes, 4 percent), 9. Kiki Cuyler (35 votes, 2 percent).

Spring game No. 22: Orioles v. Pirates, 7:05 p.m., Bradenton, Fla.

Orioles (9-9): 1. Nolan Reimold lf, 2. JJ Hardy ss, 3. Nick Markakis rf, 4. Adam Jones cf, 5. Matt Wieters c, 6. Mark Reynolds 3b, 7. Wilson Betemit 1b, 8. Ronny Paulino dh, 9. Robert Andino 2b. Tommy Hunter rhp

Pirates (8-13): 1. Alex Presley lf, 2. Jose Tabata rf, 3. Andrew McCutchen cf, 4. Neil Walker 2b, 5. Garrett Jones 1b, 6. Rod Barajas c, 7. Pedro Alvarez 3b, 8. Clint Barmes ss, 9. Erik Bedard lhp

Also scheduled to pitch: Juan Cruz, Tony Watson and Jason Grilli

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Comments

  1. BigDaddyHoss says:

    Being around baseball all my life, it is clear to me that until Pedro hits with authority on a consistent basis, there is always gonna be something different that someone is going to have in mind to help him get out of it (ie., toe tap, closed stance, open stance, hands back, etc.). Bottom line, he has got to hit.

    It is like an imaginary net over him. The harder he tries to get out, the more he is going to get tangled up.

  2. Tony says:

    With another 0 for 3 outing with 2 Ks, it is obvious now that Pedro is lost at the plate. Throw in a shaky fielding performance as well and the question begs, why is management so hell bent on forcing Pedro into the starting lineup with potentially disasterous consequences to the Pirates 2012 performance. Is management so devoid of objectivity, that if feels compelled to justify its former first round draft choice. The stats don’t lie and neither does the fact that Pedro couldn’t hit a slider last year and now can’t hit any pitch. Just ask a scout on an opposing team; they will tell you that the pitching staff is told to throw Pedro a heavy dose of hard breaking stuff.

    If this year’s spring training performance was an aberration, that would be one thing. However, it represents a slippage from Pedro’s horrific 2011 performance at the MLB level. In fact, if my memory serves me correct, when Pedro was returned to Indy during the latter half of 2011, his K to AB ratio was also troubling. I beg management to sensibly justify their decision.

  3. Ryan (Nor-Cal Stlrfanrc) says:

    @Tony- They did actually justify their decision. What good is it for Pedro to go down to AAA? He can hit minor league pitching. He NEEDS to learn how to hit MLB pitching. There’s only one way to do that. Play. Do you want Casey Meghee to start at 3rd with his .230 batting average from last year? How about soft hitting Josh Harrison? Neither will have the impact that Pedro will have if and when he starts hitting. ST stats mean absolutely nothing. Harrison was batting over .500. Does that mean he’s going to do that well in the regular season?

  4. Rick says:

    @Ryan. Although I agree ST stats mean nothing, Pedro looks overmatched out there. And his fielding last night was atrocious! Mark my words, if he struggles early, he will hear it from the fans. I’d give Pedro to the end of April and if he is still struggling, send him down. Meghee has a longer history of success (last year excluded) and I think he can help the club.

  5. Tony says:

    Ryan,

    @ Ryan. What the PBC needs more than anything else is a winning season. Although, Pedro has more upside than McGehee, trotting him out in the starting lineup at the beginning of the season carries a substantial risk of costing the Pirate precious victories. You know what you’re gettng with McGahee; with Alvarez you’re getting a potential, if not likely, disaster.

    I believe the organization is making a critical mistake by force feeding Pedro into the starting line up. It’s not good for the team and it’s not good for Pedro. Simply, he lacks the confidence at the plate and on the field to perform to the best of his ability and right now, his ability is suspect.

  6. Chuck H. says:

    To Erick Bedard: Welcome to the non hitting, runless Pirates. You pitched well enough to win most games with any other team. I really feel bad for you starters who pitch your hearts out only to lose because of no run support. The Pirates still need some consistant hitters who will hit with men on base. Of course, we have to get some men on base first. And the news that fat Pedro will still be with us, is disappointing, but our very brilliant ownership knows best, don’t they.

 
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