PITTSBURGH (93-7 The Fan)-Former Pirate Kevin Young knows the defensive transition Pedro Alvarez is going through. The Pirates hired Young and he has spent all Spring Training as a special assistant helping Alvarez and the other first basemen get ready for the season.
“He came in committed to doing it,” Young said of Alvarez. “Now, his mind is in the right place to go through, get those reps, fail, turnaround, succeed and get ready for the season.”
Young said the advantage for third basemen moving to first is the footwork, reaction time and soft hands, all of which Pedro excels at.
Young started his career with the Pirates as a third baseman, but quickly made the transition to first and finished his big league career with a .992 fielding percentage.
“Getting those guys at first base to understand they can change the outcome of a game tremendously just on the defensive side,” Young said. “Making your infielders better, making the pitching staff more effective.”
“The old stereotype of a first baseman is gone for us. We expect a lot. We expect a 3-6-1 or 3-6-3 double play to be turned as easily as a 6-4-3. Those are outs out there that we want to make sure are routine for us.”
Young said of his other “students,” Corey Hart wants to learn first and sees an opportunity for himself there. Andrew Lambo listens well and Sean Rodriguez knows the infield, but still needs to learn the specifics at first.
Young says he’s impressed that the Pirates first basemen are “all in.”
The now 45-year-old Young is in great shape and joked if it wasn’t for his knees, he could still play.
Young was with 11 Pirates teams, following a brief appearance with the 1992 team, the Bucs were 155 games under .500 during his career. The clubhouse at McKechnie Field was also a cement block rectangle with a limited weight room in the middle of the floor.
Now, Young and the Pirates work in state-of-the-art facilities.
“It is amazing,” Young said. “I can’t say in enough words how far the organization has come in a lot of different aspects, but especially when it comes to this facility. The players truly do have the best of everything to maximize whatever their potential is.”
Young said he’s tried to tell the current players what it used to be like, but “it’s like talking to your kids about what things used to be like when you grew up, they can’t comprehend it.”