By Chris Adamski
BRADENTON, Fla. — Fans can debate the on-field contributions and statistical worth of John Jaso while he’s midway through a two-year, $8 million contract. He hit .268/.353/.413 last season, primarily as a first baseman).
But when it comes to intangibles, count Clint Hurdle as a fan.
“John is as a good a teammate as I have had in a clubhouse,” the Pirates’ skipper said. “And I’ve been managing a while now.”
Hurdle has been an MLB manager for 14 seasons.
Asked a simple, almost-random postgame question about Jaso after Sunday’s game at LECOM Park, Hurdle gave an expansive, 200-word answer gushing about the dreadlocked unassuming infielder.
“He shows up every day, and he will do whatever is asked of him that day to help his team win,” Hurdle said. “He’s bought into moving around and trying new positions. This is a man who wants to play baseball; he doesn’t want to DH. And he’s just so good in so many ways in the clubhouse. He’s got no ego, he’s very smart. There’s a lot of different topics you can run up the flagpole that John can throw something in on — and with some research. He’s not just throwing out opinions without experience. I like the man.”
Almost exclusively a catcher (and part-time designated hitter) over six seasons in the American League. Jaso was signed to play first base and bat leadoff for the Pirates last season. Certainly not the profile of the traditional, stereotypical leadoff hitter, Jaso fit more of a mold in that because of his plate discipline and ability to get on base.
It was an up-and-down 2016 in that area, in particular, and at the plate in general for Jaso.
- Jaso’s on-base percentage by month last season: .389, .348, .313, .262, .455, .383
- His OPS by month last season: .845, .775, .609, .512, .969, .987
Through it all, Hurdle remains enamored.
“He’s, I think, the one player I’ve had who I don’t think I have ever seen him argue about a call at the plate,” Hurdle said. “It’s been one full season and now one spring now. And I can’t say that about anyone else I’ve ever had that. Whatever happens, happens – and he moves on.
“But he plays with intensity, he plays with confidence, and he wants to compete and he wants to play well. You feel that every day.”
>>> MORNING UPDATE: Pirates send out Kingham and Newman
“None of them did anything to deserve getting sent out camp; it just became a matter of innings.”
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“It’s tough when you get the news that you’re going to be out more than a year and a half,” Sanchez said last week. “It’s a job that you love, and you don’t even know if you’re coming back well from that. It’s unfathomable the time you have to spend to get back to where you want to be”
“I spend (so) much time on (Twitter) mindlessly. Lent is great time for me to focus on my spirituality, and it’s been awesome.”
“Spunky” Stew, Fiery Felipe, Neat Newman and Hammerin’ Hague
>>> Monday’s game: Pirates (12-4) at Braves (5-10), 1:05 p.m., Champion Stadium, Orlando. Radio: 93.7 The Fan
Braves: Lineup TBA. RHP Bartolo Colon
Also pitching for Braves: LH John Danks, RH Jim Johnson, RH Arodys Vizcaino, RH Luke Jackson
Pirates: Frazier 8, Gosselin 6, Meadows 7, Bell 3, Diaz 2, Terdoslavich 9, Hanson 5, Ngoepe 4, RHP Tyler Glasnow 1.
Also pitching for Pirates: LH Wade LeBlanc, RH A.J. Schugel, LH Dan Runzler, RH Pat Light, RH Donvydas Nererauskas.
Also Monday, Gerrit Cole is scheduled to pitch 60-65 pitches in a minor league game at Pirate City.
>>> Tuesday: Off day
>>> Wednesday’s game: Orioles (9-6 heading into Monday’s game) at Pirates, 1:05 p.m., LECOM Park, Bradenton, Fla. Webcast: pirates.com
Pirates: Lineup TBA. RHP Jameson Taillon.
Also pitching for Pirates: LH Antonio Bastardo, RH Jared Hughes, RH Juan Nicasio.
Orioles: Lineup TBA. RHP Ubaldo Jimenez
Chris Adamski is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org or via Twitter @C_AdamskiTrib.