Dunlap: Osuna’s Future Could Be At 3B

PITTSBURGH (KDKA) – We all saw what happened on Thursday night against the Philadelphia Phillies.

Pirates 24-year-old rookie Jose Osuna came up throwing.

And throwing.

And throwing some more.

He laserbeamed three men from his position in left field, becoming the first rookie in Major League Baseball to notch three outfield assists in a game since Jim Edmonds did it with the Angels in 1994.

It sure was pretty; such a wonderful display of defense as Osuna – who is also hitting .242 with five home runs, three triples and eight doubles — gathered himself without the least bit of nerves and tossed perfect strikes from left.

But a thought here …

For as attractive as all that was, could it be that Osuna might be the Pirates’ third baseman of the future? Certainly his display on Thursday night against the Phillies proved that he has a cannon from the outfield and his play in the past at first has shown he’s definitely proficient there, but because of circumstances it might be in everyone’s best interest to begin the transformation of Osuna into a third baseman.

Or, at the very least, add third base to his repertoire.

You see, with the way Josh Bell is hitting and playing defense — and the fact that he hits from both sides — it wouldn’t seem to make sense that he’s going anywhere soon. Finally, after years of searching it appears the Pirates have found their everyday first baseman in Bell.

The Pirates’ outfield, as we know, is crowded when everyone is healthy and not suspended with Starling Marte, Andrew McCutchen, Gregory Polanco and Adam Frazier all getting time out there now and much of the hope of the future allegedly riding on Austin Meadows.

Logic says there’s no room at the outfield inn for Osuna.

But third base — yes, third base!

I wouldn’t count on Jung Ho Kang ever playing for the organization again, as his visa problems that came about after his drinking and driving problems in Korea seem to be open ended with no resolution looming.

David Freese — signed through next season with a club option for 2019 — is a guy who is more than adequate at third, but it has been glaringly apparent he is better in medium-sized doses there than a guy counted on to play each day. Freese’s best role might be to play some third and first and be mixed-and-matched against pitchers manager Clint Hurdle foresees him having success against.

That said, there would appear to be a stark opening for someone to play a decent amount of games at the big league level for this franchise at third.

If I’m Osuna right now, I’d speak up.

I’d go to the organization and tell them I’d like to give it a shot — whether that transition would start now or this coming offseason and in through next spring, I’d tell them I want to make it.

And if you are the Pirates, instead of looking outside for someone who could plug what is a need, the answer might just be right under your nose. The answer might just be Osuna.

Colin Dunlap is a featured columnist at CBSPittsburgh.com. He can also be heard weekdays from 5:40 a.m. to 10 a.m. on Sports Radio 93-7 “The Fan.” You can e-mail him at colin.dunlap@cbsradio.com. Check out his bio here.

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