Does it boil down to John Bowker having a few months to prove his worth on the Pittsburgh Pirates 25-man roster? If the final cuts are made and John Bowker makes the team, just how long will he take to prove he can hit Major League pitching?
Last season Bowker had a big camp with the San Francisco Giants. He made the team, was the starting right fielder for a team that went on to win the World Series, but Bowker was expendable by mid season and was in Pirates black and gold. He got a brief, not extended look with the Bucs, his performance showed some flashes, but the big hits elluded Bowker. The struggles with left handers remained.
Fighting for his life this Spring, Bowker has given the Pirates brass some reasons to think he can get it done. The Bucs don’t have much choice, Bowker is out of options. They would risk losing his talents if he should be cut. It seems that Bowker is showing the Pirates what they would be missing.
But he’s done that before. He played his way into a starting role for the Giants last year by hitting .312 with a team-leading six home runs and 23 RBIs in Spring Training. Yippee. A nice Spring Training is just that, it doesn’t mean jack once opening day rolls up and punches players in the gut.
The key to the Bucs bench improving is Steve Pearce. He was awarded an additional option after an injury last season. Pearce can be sent to Indianapolis to work on playing some other positions, it’s a situation similar to what Neil Walker did last season. If it does go down this way, let’s trust that should Pearce not make the club, the time in Indy is beneficial for him.
Pearce, like Bowker, hasn’t proven he can make it happen in the big leagues yet. Sure Pearce was close last season before the injury, the bat was coming to life, but Pearce could benefit from some time in Indy.
The bottom line for us is why would the Bucs risk losing John Bowker when they don’t have to? He has shown he can handle AAA. He has some nice numbers in his career. It’s the big league level where the trouble came. Perhaps he just needs some more time to make it work? He was investing the time on his swing when we were in Bradenton, a swing that we commented a few times looked like it had some holes.
Time is a valuable thing for the Pirates, so if Bowker does get a shot at a bench job, let’s trust he makes it count this time.
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