By Chris Adamski
BRADENTON, Fla. — There is finally an El Toro sighting for the Grapefruit League this spring.
And it’s coming at a very familiar place.
Four days after signing with the Orioles (and waiting four weeks into camp before doing so), Pedro Alvarez is in their lineup for the first time Wednesday when the O’s make the short drive up from Sarasota to face the Pirates at LECOM Park.
Alvarez, of course, spent seven springs playing here (when it was still called McKechnie Field, of course). But, as is well known to Pirates fans, he did it at third base – until his struggles there compounded to the point he spent his final season with the team at first base.
The Pirates, as you’ll surely recall, non-tendered Alvarez 16 months ago, and the Orioles eventually scooped him up to be their DH last season.
In terms of Alvarez’s free-agent market value, his fielding (led the NL in errors three consecutive seasons) and on-base numbers (.311 career OBP) are poor enough they overshadow prodigious power (led the NL in HR in ’13, hit 47 over the past two seasons in just 867 plate appearances, 14th among active players in AB per HR).
The Orioles are trying the newest experiment in regards to Alvarez’s glove: the outfield.
Manager Buck Showalter insists Alvarez can handle it. We’ll see – but we won’t see it today at LECOM.
>>>>> Tuesday was a wonderful day here. After an exact month straight of work for everyone involved, it was an off day (mostly) for the Pirates.
But in terms of prep for the season – in particular, for starting pitchers – Neal Huntington threw some proverbial cold water on it: “Off days are great thing,” the general manager said Monday, “but they’re also a day we don’t get nine innings.”
In the context of stretching out the starting pitchers (both for Pittsburgh and Triple-A Indianapolis) as well as evaluate the five pitchers purportedly in a competition for the final two rotation spots, missing out on those nine valuable innings.
Luckily, the Pirates have Ray Searage.
“Ray,” Huntington said, “is a master puzzle man in terms of putting together the innings and how we get innings.”
>>> You want links? I’ve got, well, one link (hey, cut me some slack – yesterday was the first “off day” of the spring. And I still worked):
“We don’t come from a very big town. … Successful guys, I guess, kind of stick together.”
>>> Wednesday’s game: Orioles (10-7) at Pirates (12-5), 1:05 p.m., LECOM Park, Bradenton. TV: ROOT Sports. Radio: 93.7 The Fan
Orioles: Chris Dickerson 9, Johnny Giavotella 4, Hyun Soo Kim 7, Chris Davis 3, Pedro Alvarez DH, Chris Johnson 5, Logan Schafer 8, Caleb Joseph 2, Paul Janish 6. RHP Ubaldo Jimenez
Also pitching for the Orioles: RHP Zach Stewart, LHP Donnie Hart.
Pirates: Adam Frazier 4, Jordy Mercer 6, Jose Osuna 3, David Freese 5, John Jaso 9, Phil Gosselin 7, Danny Ortiz 8, Chris Stewart 2, RHP Jameson Taillon
Also pitching for the Pirates: LH Antonio Bastardo, RH Jared Hughes, RH Juan Nicasio.
RH Chad Kuhl will pitch at Pirate City in a minor league game.
>>> Thursday’s game: Pirates at Red Sox (8-10 heading into Wednesday’s game), 6:05 p.m., JetBlue Park at Fenway South, Fort Myers, Fla. Webcast: pirates.com
Pirates: RHP Ivan Nova. Lineup TBA.
Also pitching for the Pirates: RH Edgar Santana, RH A.J. Schugel, LH Dan Runzler, RH Donvydas Neverauskas.
Red Sox: Lineup TBA. LHP Chris Sale
Also pitching for the Red Sox: RH Craig Kimbrel, RH Heath Hembree, LH Robbie Ross Jr., RH Jamie Callahan.
Chris Adamski is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at email@example.com or via Twitter @C_AdamskiTrib.