Reporting Jim Colony
BRADENTON, Fla. (93-7 THE FAN) — Heading into the weekend, most of the Pirates regulars are not among the leaders in plate appearances, but that is about to change.
“It’s time to start bundling at-bats,” says manager Clint Hurdle who, especially after the upcoming off-day Tuesday, plans to begin playing his expected starters three or four games in a row so they can get more comfortable at the plate.
Andrew McCutchen, just 2-13 in 6 games going into Saturday, is taking it all in stride.
“It’s good whenever… just to get the at-bats when we need to get them,” said McCutchen.
And the first half of the spring, many of those at-bats go to players competing for jobs.
McCutchen had company during some of his off-season workouts, joined by Neil Walker, Pedro Alvarez, and, for awhile, by prospect Josh Bell.
“It’s good to have them there,” McCutchen says. “I think we all push each other, seeing others working hard makes you want to work hard; it’s a domino effect.”
As for the 20-year-old Bell, a former second-round pick but first-round talent who passed up college for a $5 million bonus, McCutchen says the six-foot-three, 213-pound Bell is a “very big individual who can hit the ball a country mile” and that he looks like he’ll help the Pirates in the future.
(Saturday update – McCutchen was 0-3 but with 2 hard-hit balls and made a nice catch running away from home in deep centerfield)