Pirates Black and Gold Game Lineups Best Ever
By Tom Smith
2015 Pittsburgh Pirates Black and Gold game lineup.
The Pittsburgh Pirates Black and Gold game has replaced the former annual game against Manatee Community College. During his first season as skipper Clint Hurdle mentioned after a blowout Bucs victory over the Fighting Manatees that playing the small college was a can’t win proposition.
The teams haven’t played each other since. So we won’t be making anymore crazy posters.
The Pittsburgh Pirates no longer play Manatee Community College
Now instead of ending up on Deadspin because of that can’t win situation, the Pirates scrimmage against the Pirates (and hopeful Pirates) before the Grapefruit League games begin.
So while the history of the Pirates Black and Gold is only three seasons, this years lineups are the best. Of course that’s easy to say when you look back from your cozy Monday morning quarterback chair and compare.
The Pirates announced that Pedro Alvarez and Corey Hart will not start today. Updated lineups from Bill Brink below:
Jaff Decker and Jose Tabata will start this season. Last years left fielders were Felix Pie and Starling Marte. Three years ago it was Alex Dickerson and Mel Rojas
Keon Broxton had a breakout while in AA Altoona last year and Mel Rojas, Jr had his strongest season as well, both get starts in CF today. Gregory Polanco and Jaff Decker started last year while three years ago two players no longer with the Bucs covered center in Ford and Presley.
Aug 7, 2014; Pittsburgh, PA, USA; Pittsburgh Pirates right fielder Gregory Polanco (25) hits a two run single against the Miami Marlins during the fourth inning at PNC Park. Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports
Gregory Polanco and 21 year old Willy Garcia get the nod in right. It’s quite an upgrade to look over the past few starters which included eventual world champion Travis Ishikawa and Jose Tabata last year while Jose Tabata and Jerry Sands played right field in 2013.
Sep 25, 2014; Atlanta, GA, USA; Pittsburgh Pirates left fielder Starling Marte (6) hits a two-run double in the seventh inning of their game against the Atlanta Braves at Turner Field. The Pirates won 10-1. Mandatory Credit: Jason Getz-USA TODAY Sports
Starling Marte and Andrew Lambo will swing exclusively in the five and a half inning scrimmage. Designated hitters from previous years were highlighted by Brandon Inge. So, yeah, ugrade.
The most exciting part of the lineups for us is seeing Pedro Alvarez make his spring training debut at first base, Also seeing if Corey Hart is fully healthy as he makes his first as a Bucco. In past years Gaby Sanchez, Clint Robinson, Chris McGuiness and a chubby Andrew Lambo have started.
Feb 26, 2015; Bradenton, FL, USA; Pittsburgh Pirates infielder Steve Lombardozzi (23) will start in the Pirates Black and Gold game today. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports
For some reason Justin Sellers and Steve Lombardozzi will start at second base this season while Hanson will be a sub. DeJesus, Harrison, Martinez and D’Arnaud have started in past years.
Pedro Florimon and the well publicized debut of Jung-ho Kang at shortstop will draw plenty of attention. Jordy Mercer, Chase d’Arnaud, Robert Andino and Hanson have started in the other Pirates Black & Gold games for Hurdle.
Ugh. The most disappointing players in the lineups won’t get a mention here. If you enjoy torture, you can read their names above. The third base position is Josh Harrison‘s to lose with Kang being his back up. Looking at past Black & Gold scrimmage starters further displays just how tough it has been to find a third baseman.
Feb 26, 2015; Bradenton, FL, USA; Pittsburgh Pirates catcher Tony Sanchez will make his third consecutive start in the Pirates Black and Gold game. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports
Tony Sanchez is a three-year starter in the Pirates Black and Gold game. Sebastion Valle will be the backstop for the Gold squad. Other past catchers were Michael McKenry and Nevin Ashley.
Feb 19, 2015; Bradenton, FL, USA; Pittsburgh Pirates infielder Pedro Alvarez (24) warms up during a workout Thursday morning at Pirate City. Mandatory Credit: Jonathan Dyer-USA TODAY Sports
While the Pirates Black and Gold game is one I always look forward to, the lineups always let us down a bit. But this year is different, Alvarez is healthy and swinging with authority again. Hart will be out to prove he is healthy and battle for playing time. Kang’s aggressive swing could make his first season exciting and will certainly will be a strikeout filled one. The excitement around Broxton, Garcia, and the bigger, badder Polanco are all cool headlines as well.
Feb 26, 2015; Bradenton, FL, USA; Pittsburgh Pirates center fielder Willy Garcia (73) poses for photo day at Pirate City. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports
Chasing quality depth is highlighted when we look back on the lineups over the years. Think about this. Josh Harrison is the lone representative of the 2013 Black lineup that had an impact on the club last year. Also, Harrison is the only player from that entire lineup still with the Pirates.
Here are the Pirates Black & Gold lineups from last year.
The Gold team had the more established Pirates players with Jose Tabata in right field and Jaff Decker in center. Everyone’s fan favorite last summer Andrew Lambo was at first with Tony Sanchez batting cleanup and catching for starter Joely Rodriguez. Josh Harrison at third base was a sign of things to come while Robert Andino at short wasn’t. Chase d’Arnaud started at second and Paulino was the DH with Mel Rojas, Jr in left field.
The Black team had the talented Alen Hanson leading off at short followed by Gregory Polanco in center field. The rest of the lineup proved insanely flat with Chris Dickerson in left and Matt Hague at the hot corner. Travis Ishikawa was in right. Nevin Ashley caught for starter Stolmy Pimentel. Chris McGuiness got the start at first base with Michael Martinez at second. Omir Santos served as the DH. and completes the lineup.
The 2013 Black & Gold Game was all about the starting pitchers when Gerrit Cole faced off against Jameson Taillon. 2014 didn’t have the headline starters. Rodriguez is now gone, traded away in the off season, and Pimentel is out of options, but still beloved by the Bucs staff.
The 2013 lineups are a whos who of obscure Pirates that might win you a drink or two if you can remember all of their first names.
The less than inspiring lineups aside, this game still beats playing those hated Manatees. Go Bucs!