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A final post before I go

Florida Auto Exchange Stadium is empty, which means it's time to go.

Florida Auto Exchange Stadium is empty, which means it's time to go.

DUNEDIN, Fla. — Right-hander Jeff Karstens looked good today in his final spring training outing. Karstens worked four innings and gave up a run on four hits, walked one and struck out one.

“I’m in a really good place on the mound right now,” Karstens said. “In the middle of spring training, I was walking some guys, coming out of my delivery. I was worrying about things I shouldn’t worry about — not so much results and things like that, but pitching (mechanics). After today, I’m happy with where I am, heading into the season. I’m excited to see what it brings. It’s the first year I really trained (in the offseason) to be a starter. It’s different now, knowing the expectations after what I did last year. I want more of that and I want guys to see more of that.”

Does Karstens have more of a sense of comfort, knowing from the giddy-up that he’s in the rotation and not the bullpen? “I wouldn’t say comfort,” he said. “I don’t want to get to where I feel a sense of entitlement. I would say I felt more at ease. I know I can start, I can relieve, I’m in a good place with this team and I’ve done some good things. But never at any time did I feel a sense of entitlement because at any time something can happen and it ends like that.”

Serving only food from the Great White North?

Serving only food from the Great White North?

»»» You can’t tell yet by looking at him, but Karstens has decided to give up his usual buzz-cut look. “I’m letting my hair grow until it’s absolutely disgusting,” Karstens said, “or until Clint (Hurdle) tells me to cut it.”

»»» Catcher Michael McKenry was struck near his inner thigh by a foul tip and needed a couple of minutes to walk it off. When McKenry walked stiffly to the mound, Karstens decided to lighten the mood by asking, “Michael, are you and your wife planning to have kids anytime soon?”

»»» Surprise! Matt Hague went deep again, crushing the first pitch he saw from Jim Hoey. (For the record, I called it, too.) That gave The Hit Collector a team-high seven homers in 52 spring at-bats. He hit 12 home runs in 534 at-bats at Triple-A Indy last year, which caused some folks to wonder if he had enough power to be a corner infielder in the majors.

“He’s not trying to hit long balls,” Hurdle said. “But I do think he’s gotten to a point in his maturation process that when balls are elevated, he’s finishing the swing much better. There’s times with young hitters when it’s all about contact, all about getting hits. It’s something he worked on in winter ball. He’s putting good swings on balls that are elevated. His swing’s in a real nice place. I always look back at some players who hit 20, 25, 30 home runs in the majors … none of them hit home runs in the minor leagues. They mature, they get a little stronger. Not only has he hit homers, he’s given us good at-bats, some lengthy at-bats and balls he’s hit the other way. He’s in a very good place, he’s confident and he’s having fun with it.”

»»» Not sure if I mentioned this earlier, but reliever Juan Cruz said he’s fine after taking a liner off his right arm during yesterday’s game against the Twins. There’s a big, red welt on Cruz’s arm but he was not wearing any sore of brace or wrap. And while we’re exploring the Planet of the Aches, McKenry told me after the game that he’s no worse for wear after absorbing that foul tip.

»»» I’m passing the baton to Karen Price, who will pick up the club the next two days in the City of Brotherly Shove. Hopefully, none of the venom from today’s Flyers-Penguins game carries over with the fans for the baseball scrimmages at Citizens Bank Park.

Check back here Wednesday (I’ll post any news out of the workout at PNC Park) and Thursday for Opening Day coverage.

Game 1: Philadelphia @ Pirates, 1:35 p.m. ET

Phillies (0-0) — Roy Halladay rhp (season debut)

Pirates (0-0) — Erik Bedard lhp (season debut)



  1. Tony says:

    My enthusiasm for the Pirates in 2012 is tempered by what I see as a critical and obvious mistake management is making: the insertion of Alvarez into the starting lineup. By what logic does the PBC have for starting Alvarez over McGahee or Hague. You could discount Alvarez’s pitiful spring training performance if his 2011 regular season performance elicited some confidence that spring training was an aberration; however this is certainly not the case. The strength of the Pirates lineup resides in the 1-4 spots and after that the drop-off is considerable. Inserting a non-productive hitter in the 6 or 7 spot compounds this weakness.

    The league knows how to pitch to Alvarez and the result is too often a K. I predict that Cutch breaks out big time this year only to be offset by a dismal Alvarez. Hopefully, management adjusts much sooner than later for the sake of the team, its fans and Alvarez himself.

  2. BobHawaii says:

    I hope we’re teaching Marte how to play 3rd Base.

  3. Ryan (Nor-Cal Stlrfanrc) says:

    @Tony- Magahee hasn’t proved anything this year, nor did he last year. Hague is not a 3B. I know Pedro has struggled but c’mon. The reason for doing so is so that he can break through this slump at the MLB level. No reason to go to AAA where he’s already proven to hit.

    He’ll never bat .330 or really over .270. He will also come with a lot of K’s, but he will bring power production and a healthy and productive Pedro, is better than those 2 guys together.

  4. Tony says:


    Would you feel the same about Pedro if his BA is sub-.200 and he strikes out once every 3 plate appearances while committing a record level of fielding errors? That’s what his 2011 and 2012 spring training performance suggests.

  5. Stephen in New York says:

    Maybe we should be teaching Hines Ward to play third base

  6. Lee says:

    Put Hague at first and (gulp) Alvarez at 3b! McGahee and Jones are J-O-U-R-N-E-Y-M-E-N.

    Let’s see what the Hit Collector can do!!

    Let’s see if Alvarez is any good or a total (probably) bust.



  7. Paul says:

    Predro, Pedro, Pedro, all the attention paid to Pedro Alvarez and none to the fact that the expected number four hitter (Neil Walker) posted a .564 OPS collecting 3 measly doubles, no wlaks an 12 strike outs…

    The expected one and two hitters (Presley and Tabata) combine for a pathetic 6 walks between them…

    and the free agent SS stop (Barmes) who will soon be hitting number two when that duo fails miserably had 1 walk, 14 strike outs and three miserable doubles….

    While the entire team finished dead last amongst all teams this spring with a total of 63 base on balls.

    The 2012 Pirates offense is a disaster waiting to happen and rife with problems much more significant that what Pedro Alvarez may or many not do starting with the the idiot manager who couldn’t put together an efficient lineup if his life depended on it and thinks bunting, “speed” and swinging at first pitches are ways to produce offense.

    Another stellar performance by the pitchers, another bottom three in the majors by the offense and a 60 – 102 record awaits us.

  8. joel says:

    Lets be honest about McGahee, two years ago he hit .270-.280s with 20+ homers ans 70-80 RBIs thats not the figures of a journeyman. Last year he had injury problems and his numbers suffered. He was a good pickup but the good old boys club will prevent him from being a regular.

    Presley has a bigger upside than Tabata and is the best leadoff man on the roster but remember the club. Marte will be in the Burg by June and will be a regular and someone has to go. Tabata has a long contract so he will stay Presley gets the new zip code.

    Pedro needs to go back to AAA because he is an anchor to the team. Three hits in Spring training with 14-15 K. Not only would I send him down he would be on first base the rest of his career and that looks like a short term situation.

  9. chris says:

    Why does presley have more upside? Tabata is still very young and may develop power, if he stays healthy this season then id expect him to put up numbers closer to his rookie year.

    And why is presley clearly a better leadoff man than Tabata? Even during a down year for Tabata, his OBP was ten points higher.

  10. chris says:

    I found an interesting stat on pedro on espn…
    For his career he has a .296/.386/.470 against fastballs, but a .072 batting average against breaking balls… WOW. Woooooow!!!

  11. B says:

    Although Alvarez has been pitiful this fall. I believe the time is now to play him and either he is going to get the reps and learn to hit big league pitching or the Pirates will find the answer whether he is their future third basemen or not. Some guys just never can change and adapt to how seasoned pitchers pitch them. But the idea of not playing him is ridiculous. It is not like we are an obvious playoff team and he is a hole in our lineup. Our lineup is years away from playing with the big boys. McGhee is a good player to have and to share at bats to put Pedro in more favorable situations.

    I would love to see the Hague/Jones platoon, although more of Hague to see if this guy is legit. I am hoping Hurdle doesn’t bury Hague on the bench because he’s earned a look at first and the organization is not deep here.

    Presley and Tabata are both good players, I believe Tabata has the better upside if he can be a more patient hitter and develop more power, although if he has gap power and can be a 40 double a year guy, who cares if he hits 20 home runs? He could potentially be a very good 1-2 guy in the order. As of right now, Marte seems like a very similiar player to Tabata in that he has not found his power stroke yet and walks very little. Marte and Tabata are both young guys with a whole lot of room to grow.

  12. Black n Gold (not yellow) says:

    Hitters learn how to identify and hit breaking balls as they mature. Everyone that reaches MLB can hit a fastball. Pedro’s problem is that he can’t reach the outside pitch, and outside is where the overwhelming majority of pitchers throw there breaking balls. He’s too far from the plate and his stance is too closed. He needs to move closer to the plate, thereby challenging pitchers to pitch him inside, and attack the ball with his lower half like he did in college. Pedro has numbers in his first 169 games that are very similar to numerous all stars and Hall of Fame players before him. His talent alone makes him deserving of, at least, a full season of healthy baseball. After that, if he shows no sign of adapting, then ship him out.

  13. Paul says:

    @joel McGhee’s biggest problem isn’t his performance last year, or his injuries or even McGhee himself for the most part.

    His biggest problem is that he’s a right handed hitter without a lot of power and he’ll be playing his home games at PNC Park.

    For all the lip service Huntington and Coonelly paid to Sabremetrics, computer modeling etc, their acquisitions for the most part have shown little to no understanding of park effects. Especially with regards to how PNC dramatically affect right handed fly ball hitters.

    It was especially glaring in their pursuit of Derek Lee who hit completely mediocre .767 OPS at PNC in last year, which was virtually the same as his 2009-2011 average and higher than any other year hitting there.

    Casey McGehee has hit .694 at PNC the last three years.

    PNC swallows hitters like McGehee, and Barmes whole and spits them out.

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