A recap of news and notes from Pittsburgh Pirates’ Spring Training on Wednesday, February 21
The first week of full squad workouts at Pirate City in Bradenton is now more than halfway over. With the team’s Spring Training opener now just two days away, here is a look at news and notes from Wednesday in Bradenton.
For the second consecutive day, the big news out of Pirate camp was the acquisition of an outfielder. On Wednesday, the Pirates signed 2016 American League All-Star outfielder Michael Saunders to a minor league contract.
Michael Saunders then reported to Bradenton on Wednesday, and will now enter the team’s left field competition. Despite the signing of Saunders, Adam Frazier remains the likely Opening Day starter in left field.
“At the end of the day, my goal is to find a job in the big leagues and help the team win. Neal [Huntington] and I have been talking the majority of the offseason, just expressing interest and everything. I felt like it was the right opportunity,” Saunders told reporters on Wednesday.
The player that Saunders may impact most is fellow non-roster invitee Daniel Nava. Nava missed team workouts for his third consecutive day due to lower-back discomfort on Wednesday. Nava’s back issues are definitely a concern, especially since he was limited to just 80 games in 2017 due to back issues.
Pirate general manager Neal Huntington even told reporters on Wednesday that after Nava’s back flare up the team was not hesitate to sign Saunders, who they had been in contact with before signing Nava last week. This may suggest that the team is not overly optimistic about Nava’s back.
Speaking of new outfielders, Bryce Brentz, who the Pirates traded for on Tuesday, arrived in camp on Wednesday. In my opinion, Brentz will be given every opportunity by the Pirates and rightfully so. Brentz has always flashed great power in the minor leagues but has never been given a real opportunity in the Major Leagues. With 2018 being geared more toward building for the future, the Pirates should give Brentz an extended look in 2018 to see if his power can translate to the Majors.
Ultimately, I believe two of the three of Bryce Brent, Daniel Nava, and Michael Saunders will be on the team’s Opening Day roster.
The team also took the field on Wednesday to practice cutoff plays and relay throws. The defensive alignments were as followed:
1B – Josh Bell, Jose Osuna
2B – Josh Harrison, Sean Rodriguez, Kevin Kramer, Pablo Reyes
SS – Jordy Mercer, Kevin Newman, Cole Tucker, Chris Bostick
3B – Colin Moran, David Freese, Erich Weiss, Eric Wood
LF – Adam Frazier, Jordan Luplow, Jason Martin
CF – Starling Marte, Austin Meadows
RF – Gregory Polanco, Bryce Brentz, Bryan Reynolds
As has been the case all week, the first group is likely to be your starters, along with Francisco Cervelli behind the dish, on Opening Day in Detroit on March 29.
Team trainer Tom Tomcyzk also updated starting pitcher Joe Musgrove on Wednesday. Tomcyzk told reporters that Musgrove’s shoulder discomfort was a minor issue, and that he should resume throwing again “in the coming days.”
That will do it for today. Continue to check back here at Rum Bunter for news and notes on the Pittsburgh Pirates throughout the remainder of Spring Training.