BRADENTON, Florida (93-7 THE FAN) – Day 3 of Pitchers & Catchers was all set to be another “some guys pitched, some guys took infield, and then there was batting practice” kind of Spring Training Groundhog Day.
Then, David Freese went in on everyone. Himself. His teammates. The coaching staff. The management. The entire organization got it.
And rightfully so.
If Pirates’ management was wondering what the veterans on their ball club who hadn’t asked for a trade were thinking, they heard an earful in Freese’s 20-minute long broadside.
Jordy Mercer agreed that the words Freese used Friday morning carry weight.
“He’s won a World Series. He’s been there, done that. He’s one of the guys in this clubhouse that everyone looks up to. When he speaks, everybody listens,” Mercer said.
Manager Clint Hurdle downplayed the significance of Freese’s treatise though, choosing to look at it as just another viewpoint on the situation the organization is in.
“I think one of the best lessons I’ve learned over time is you can’t argue with somebody about their perception. I’m not going to argue with David’s perception. I may see it a little differently, but I’m not in the clubhouse every day,” he said.
That said, the most interesting perspective may come in the next few days when Josh Harrison arrives. He has until the end of the day Sunday to report, as the first full squad workout is not until Monday.
Will Harrison arrive early? Or will he make a statement by waiting until the last minute? Or would he go so far as to report late? When he does arrive, will he react positively to a conversation Neal Huntington says they had after Harrison’s trade request? Or will he make Freese’s dissertation sound like a love letter?
More on that in the coming days.
As for baseball…
-A handful of early reporting position players showed up, including Jordan Luplow, Austin Meadows, minor league infielders Erich Weiss & Eric Wood, and outfielder Jason Martin, who was the final piece of the Gerrit Cole trade to the Houston Astros to arrive.
-Joe Musgrove wandered to the opposite corner of the clubhouse to hang with Martin as he unpacked his things. The two haven’t played together much, but have interacted during one of Musgrove’s rehab stints in the Astros organization.
“It’s a comfort thing. I know my first trade over to Houston, I was real uncomfortable making my introductions into the clubhouse. We’re familiar with one another, and I was fortunate enough to get here two weeks early and have some time to meet some of the guys, so I’m trying to make the transition process a little easier for him.”
-Daniel Hudson missed another bullpen session with his sprained right ankle still recovering. The group he would have been a part of, alongside Michael Feliz, George Kontos, and Bo Schultz, went last on Friday. Schultz has had a rapid recovery to get back on the mound less than a year removed from Tommy John surgery.
-The first group was Musgrove, Jameson Taillon, reliever Kyle Crick, and lefty Steven Brault. Musgrove agreed that throwing to Francisco Cervelli is like having another pitching coach behind the plate.
“He’s able to see things pitch to pitch. It doesn’t take him a whole lot of time to be able to point out my flaws and the little areas that need adjustments, even having not seen me before.”
-Musgrove also admitted that he’s aware his mother, Diane, is following members of the Pittsburgh media on Twitter. “My family’s real close to me, and they love to feel like they’re a part of everything, so she likes to follow along.”
-The second group of Casey Sadler, A.J. Schugel, Rule 5 pick Jordan Milbrath, and minor league free agent Tyler Jones were exhorted by Pitching Coach Ray Searage, from the back of the bullpen, to “Hyper focus, [with] intent on every pitch!”
-The third group was headlined by Ivan Nova and Felipe Rivero on either end with Tyler Glasnow and lefty reliever Josh Smoker in the middle. Glasnow, whose delivery seems to be more deliberate than ever, took his time and was once again the last in his group to finish up.
-As that group pitched, catcher Jacob Stallings was on Field 2 practicing throws to second and looking particularly effective for throwing against ghost runners.
-Hurdle admitted there are a lot of decisions to be made in regards to the bullpen, and a lot of candidates for the Opening Day roster to sort through.
“You ask me these questions, and I have to come up with about 15 names, truthfully, because that’s about the number of guys we’re looking at.”
How does having a lefty reliever in the mix factor in to those decisions?
“I like having a lefty, I think most guys do,” said Hurdle. “You’d like to be able to match-up, sometimes earlier [rather] than later. Whether it be Jack [Leathersich], whether it be Josh [Smoker].” Hurdle also acknowledged that 2017 International League Pitcher of the Year Steven Brault, the keystone of the Indianapolis Indians’ starting rotation last year, could be in the mix.
Saturday’s workouts will be punctuated in the late afternoon by a pep rally in downtown Bradenton.