Pedro Alvarez’ diary: A Time For Reflection


Aug 27, 2013; Pittsburgh, PA, USA; Pittsburgh Pirates third baseman

Pedro Alvarez

(24) in the on-deck circle against the Milwaukee Brewers during the fourth inning at PNC Park. The Milwaukee Brewers won 7-6. Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

The following is an excerpt from the personal diary of Pittsburgh Pirates slugger Pedro Alvarez, a copy of which was provided exclusively to Rum Bunter.  

Dear Diary,

Spring training is nearly over, thank heavens. Don’t get me wrong, I dig the warm weather and palm trees and all that. And it’s good seeing the boys again. Helluva group we got year too. Should go far. Hopefully Andrew McCutchen‘s magic wasn’t all in his dreads. I can finally tell the difference between him and Larry Fitzgerald. A.J. Burnett is back, somewhere underneath all those tats. Dude’s strange, but good strange. And how ’bout that Jeong-ho Kang, dragging half of the South Korean media with him? They follow him around they’re paparazzi, and he’s Alex Baldwin looking to go fisticuffs on Rodeo Drive.

TBBILOL. (The Big Bull is laughing out loud).

Seriously, I’m totally ready for Opening Day. We all are. All this blasted batting practice, and fielding drills, and exhibition games and whatnot. Enough is enough! And as for the transfer to the other side of the diamond…

It is what it is, I guess.

Plus, there are little lizards all over the place down here. Even in the hotel rooms. It’s weird.

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But hey, spring training ain’t going all that bad. Looks like Pedro Alvarez…The Big Bull — The Friggin’ Biggest of all the Bulls — brought his big bat with him. As of today I’m batting .306, with an OBP of .316. Pretty decent, huh? I’m slugging .611. Got me 2 home runs and 9 RBI after 36 at-bats. I realize it’s only March but at least those stats are good enough that even the most fickle Pirates fan shouldn’t start mocking the totally badass way I wear my hat before I fly back to ‘Da Burgh for the summer.

I always feel silly writing “Da’ Burgh”, let alone the few times I actually say it.

So, I spoke to the fellas at 93.7 The Fan the other day about my transition to first base. I made sure to tell the fan base that it’s going very well, all things considered. I didn’t bother to mention some of the hiccups. I have a habit of breaking towards bunted balls rather than allowing the pitcher to field them. I still think like a third basemen in the moment sometimes. Can you blame me?

And, yes, I’ve had a bit of trouble scooping low throws out of the dirt. Don’t call it karma. Dang, scooping balls is tricky. I probably owe Ike Davis and Gaby Sanchez a fruit basket for all the crap I put them through last season.

Anyway, I gave my teammates their due when I spoke to the radio guys. The boys have made my big move a lot easier. I said “It’s just that support system that you have when you have good team chemistry, and there’s no shortage of that here.” I meant those words. “I have zero hesitation when it comes to playing in the game (at first base),” the radio listeners heard me say. That should calm some nerves.

Besides, I often hop on the internet and read Rum Bunter, the best Pirates blog in the world. Staff writer Jon Anderson wrote a piece that pretty much agrees with my thinking, that I won’t be terrible enough defensively at first base to ruin the season.

In 12 games so far this spring, I have zero errors. Eat it, errors!

I might not be greatest first basemen ever, but I’ll be no Dr. StangeGlove. Although, I was Dr. StrangeThrow at the hot corner.

What’s more, the subtle tweak in my batting mechanics have also begun to pay off.

Tweaks aside for a moment, I really want to steamroll every dang pitch I see. It’s just in the Big Bull’s nature. In fact, Gregory Polanco and I have a gentleman’s bet to be the first to plunk one in the Allegheny River this year.

To up the ante, I told him I’d stand up on a seat in the locker room and sing “Let It Go” if he actually drills one off the Gateway Clipper. Can you imagine all those party animals on the boat, whooping it up and then having to duck in fear because a titanic shot is careening toward the deck. “Clear the deck.” Literally. TBBILOL.

Seriously, that dude did add about 20 pounds of muscle.

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Anyway, Travis Sawchik, baseball writer for the Pittsburgh Tribune Review, wrote recently that the coaching staff is hoping to reduce tension in my swing. Hitting coach Jeff Branson and I are messing around with a slight mechanical adjustment to help me relax at the plate. In earlier years, I’d hold my hands a few inches above, and parallel to, my left shoulder before swinging. This spring, I’m resting the bat on my shoulder and then lifting it up to take a hack.

So far, so good. I told the Trib “It’s just something that felt right. It’s just trying to be as loose as possible, as relaxed as possible, to put myself in the best position to get my swing off.”

Heck, just last Friday I went 3-4, and all three hits were extra base knocks. Two went to the opposite field, including an oppo home run.

What has four thumbs and loves it when The Big Bull goes opposite field? This guy, and Clint Hurdle. Skip told the Trib, “To hit the ball that hard and that far to center and the opposite field, that’s when Pedro works best.”

And Branson said, “You’ll see him start on the shoulder and take it off when he’s ready to hit. We’re trying to take the tension out of the swing instead of having tension in there before the swing is off, which creates tension once the swing starts.”

Everyone knows I got a monster season in me somewhere. 100 RBI and 36 home runs in 2013 was no fluke. Even last year, my Lost Weekend season, I produced a career-best walk rate and strikeout rate. I’ll try my darnest to give Pirates fans cramped necks from looking up all season. Clear the deck, indeed.

Okay, diary, I gotta’ go. I guess the scuttlebutt is true, and Jose Tabata has been reassigned to minor league camp. I should give my condolences. Poor Neck Lips!

NECK LIPS?! Lordy. We were only joking when we dared Jose to get that goofy tattoo.

Will write again soon.

PS- Guess what, diary? I biffed two more dingers against the Phillies today. Raised my spring training average to .325. Huzzah!

PSS- Locke over Worley for the final spot in the starting rotation??? What the WTF?!

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