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Pittsburgh sports talk with the Trib columnist

Final: Pirates 9, Astros 7


Looking ahead to first pitch …

Game: Pirates (7-13) vs. Houston Astros, Grapefruit League

Time: 1:05 p.m.

Site: Osceola County Stadium, Kissimmee, Fla.


Here is the live box score. Rob Biertempfel makes the GREAT drive to central Florida.

And here is the Pirates’ lineup …

  1. Alex Presley, LF
  2. Josh Harrison, 3B
  3. Nate McLouth, CF
  4. Casey McGehee, 1B
  5. Yamaico Navarro, 2B
  6. Rod Barajas, C
  7. Clint Barmes, SS
  8. Eric Fryer, RF
  9. Brad Lincoln, RHP

UPDATE 1:40 p.m.: Neal Huntington just told reporters in Florida that Pedro Alvarez will make the team no matter how he hits, barring injury. Not making this up.

You know, I described in a column last week the “pressure-free cocoon” the Pirates have created for Pedro, and this might be the most glaring example of that.


  1. Dave G in Liberty Township, OH says:

    Is it fair to say that the NL Central is a ‘more level playing field’ for the Pirates with the departures of Pujols and Fielder?

    After all, there was the departure of Derek Lee as well…

  2. BigDaddyHoss says:


    What struck me as odd right away is Fryer playing right field. I guess I haven’t been paying close enough attention. But what is the thinking here? Do they see a chance that Fryer could be a diamond in the rough? Why else would they move him to get him at bats? There has been a lot of catchers that have came and went. Why is he different?

    Also, Navarro seems to emerged out of no where. Where did he come from and is he a lock to make the club?


  3. Tony says:

    Excellent article on the pluses and minuses on the Pirates spring training performance. Nonetheless, I get the feel that the Pirates come out of the gate a bit stronger looking than last year Also, slippage in performance for both the Cardinals and Brewers bodes well for the Pirates moving up in the NL Central standings.

    However, the most compelling issue remains 3B. From my standpoint, Pedro Alvarez needed to project a likely improvement over his 2011 performance in order to merit being handed the starting job at 3B; just the opposite has occurred. Yet the organization seems to behave like it wants to force Alvarez into the starting line up. Do you agree? A projected number 6 hitter striking out once every 3 times is a recipe for losing a lot of close games and with an offense that still looks no better than average, this is not a formula for success. The chatter among the Pirate fan base also suggests a high degree of cynicism about Pedro as well. So the question begs, why is the Pirate organization hell bent to force Alvarez into the starting line up? Players like Presley and Karstens have to more than prove a consistent performance before the organization expresses confidence. Yet Alvarez is treated on a much different standard.

    Are we playing for the here and now or are we building for 2014?

    What say you?

  4. Leefoo says:

    DK……did Barmes actually, really say this?

    “Look at any good team, and all their guys produce. They’re all tough outs,” Barmes said. “I think we have that, no matter what lineup you pick out of this room. We’ll wear down the other team’s pitcher, work a collective approach.”

    Is he drinking the same coffee you drank last year when you said this club will hit? :)

    Hitless Foo


  5. radio wave says:

    This is a split squad game for astros. Duke pitching in other game.

  6. JoeBucco says:

    @BigDaddy – Fryer played a bunch in the OF last year for Indy. I got a chance to talk to him about it when he played LF here in Columbus, and he sounds pretty comfortable out there. Anything he can do to make him more versatile is going to be a good thing, so it makes sense that the Pirates would want to see him play out there as well.

  7. JoeBucco says:

    If I told you there was a guy who hit .368 in spring training over 57 at bats, had 4 home runs, 4 doubles, and 13 RBI, you’d probably be pretty excited about having this guy in your lineup.

    That was 2011 Lyle Overbay’s spring training line.

    How important is a good spring again?

  8. T.S. says:

    The great Jon Heyman tweeted the other day that the Buccos are possibly looking for an extra catcher and bullpen arm. It could be nothing, but maybe that’s what the Eric Fryer thing is.

    As for Pedro; I’m not surprised. It’s the PBC’s old modus operandi. And of course, after signing Cutch (and all of the good press that came with it), they don’t want to get the verbal shrapnel — Pedro being labeled a bust — that would come from sending him down. IMHO.

  9. T.S. says:

    If Pedro flounders in April like he has in ST, he’s going to hear it at the ballpark. I get that the kid is focused and apparently doesn’t let outside stuff (like booing fans) bother him. But I have a hard time believing at this point of his career, with all that’s gone on (or hasn’t for that matter) that it’s only causing harm to his psyche. AA or AAA is the best place for him to get comfortable again, find his stroke, and gain his confidence back.

  10. LuckyNKentucky says:

    Looks like Lincoln and Leroux punched their tickets on the bus out today, although Leroux is out of opitons. But Meek is rounding into shape and that’s good news.

  11. LuckyNKentucky says:

    Yammy Navarro for president.

  12. Ryan (Nor-Cal Stlrfanrc) says:

    Pedro needs to be out there everyday, unless hurt. The options are not worth sticking out there in his place to possibly gain 2 wins. If/when Pedro comes around and becomes what his potential was, he’s an everyday 30/100 guy.

    This is make or break, sink or swim year for Pedro. Sending him to AAA to work on things is not in either the Pirates or Pedro’s best interest. He’s already proven he can hit AAA. He needs to prove it at the MLB level.

    Though fielding, his future is at 1B. But Aramis Rameriez turned out to be a decent 3B over the years. That’s the level of play Pedro could be at and the only way to get there, is by playing at the highest level.

    Let’s get em Pedro!

  13. Ryan (Nor-Cal Stlrfanrc) says:


    Finding a stroke in the minors doesn’t mean he’s going to find it at the MLB level. He’s proven he can hit minor league pitching. He needs to get the work with the Pirates.

  14. BigDaddyHoss says:

    Thanks JoeBucco for the info on Fryer. I did not know he played some outfield last season.

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