TAMPA — Don’t read too much into the batting order, especially early on in spring training. “There are a couple guys (for whom) I’ve got spots in mind,” manager Clint Hurdle said. “But for the rest, I’m going to run them out there and see what works.”
Gregory Polanco in center field today against the Stormtroopers of the Evil Empire? Yep. Hurdle already knows Polanco can handle any outfield position. The skipper wants to see as many guys as he can in games, which means the contenders for the right field job won’t be restricted to playing only right field.
After Tony Sanchez clubbed a three-run homer Wednesday in the spring training opener, Hurdle was asked (though not by me) if he’s impressed. “Sure,” came the reply. “He’s on pace to drive in 90 runs. Thirty games, do the math. Let’s all make sure to get in front of ourselves. That’s one thing we’re really good at in spring training.” I found Hurdle’s dismissive answer a bit condescending. Why wouldn’t he take the question for what it was, i.e. a chance to toss a little love at a backup catcher who’s ticketed for Triple-A? Perhaps he was merely trying to (over)emphasize the point that spring training stats don’t matter and quash any notion of Sanchez making the team ahead of Chris Stewart. Whatever.
BTW, the Carnegie Museum of Art (and if you’ve never been there, well what’s up with that?) will run what figures to be a great exhibit, “Teenie Harris Photographs: Baseball in Pittsburgh” from March 22 through Sept. 22. Included are never-before-seen 16mm film footage of Negro League games at Forbes Field. There’s also this shot of Willie McCovey and The Great One at Forbes Field:
OK, enough op-ed and free advertising. Let’s get down to today’s game (weather permitting) …
Pirates (1-0) @ Yankees (0-1), 1:05 p.m., Steinbrenner Field
Online: pirates.com Weather: Cloudy, 61 degrees, 60 percent chance of rain throughout the day
Pirates: 1. Jaff Decker LF, 2. Gregory Polanco CF, 3. Chris Dickerson RF, 4. Andrew Lambo 1B, 5. Tony Sanchez DH, 6. Chris Stewart C, 7. Josh Harrison 3B, 8. Clint Barmes SS, 9. Michael Martinez 2B. RHP Charlie Morton
Yankees: 1. Brett Gardner LF, 2. Derek Jeter SS, 3. Ichiro Suzuki RF, 4. Brian Roberts 2B, 5. Francisco Cervelli C, 6. Kelly Johnson 3B, 7. Austin Romine DH, 8. Russ Canzler 1B, 9. Mason Williams CF. RHP Davis Phelps
Today’s backups: Alen Hanson, Chris McGuiness, Jose Tabata, Robert Andino, Matt Hague, Nevin Ashley, Carlos Paulino, Elias Diaz, Blake Davis, Drew Maggi, Willy Garcia, Mel Rojas Jr., Jeff Roy.
Today’s other pitchers: Jeff Locke, Brandon Cumpton, Daniel Schlereth, Cody Eppley and Yao-Hsun Yang are scheduled. Minor leaguers Nate Baker, Seth McClung, Eliecer Navarro, Jhonathan Ramos and Tyler Waldren are here in case something goes awry.