Pedro Alvarez Working On Bouncing Back From 2011 Season

BRADENTON, Fla. — Over seven Grapefruit League games this spring, third baseman Pedro Alvarez has three hits over 16 at-bats. Two of those three were home runs that were crushed to the opposite field. One came on Sunday against the Tampa Bay Rays, the other on Wednesday against the Toronto Blue Jays.

Alvarez worked hard over the offseason to bounce back from a disappointing 2011 season where he batted just .191 over 74 games with Pittsburgh.

“The looseness of the muscles, not being too bulked up,” Alvarez said on his offseason workouts. “I have a little more flexibility in my swing and I’m able to stay through some balls and let the ball get deep. It’s not so tense because all your muscles are so tight and wound up”

“I get that whip and can really use my hands, and separate my bigger pec muscles and back muscles and …I’m getting a little too technical,” Alvarez said with a laugh.

Laughs and smiles were not something you saw from Alvarez during his struggles last year. After spending the offseason in Los Angeles, California getting back on track, Alvarez looks confident again.

Over the offseason, Alvarez worked on a different stance at the plate. The toe tap that he started incorporating towards the end of last year has been exaggerated this spring. He also said agility has let him get to the ball on the deeper part of the plate.

“I think he’s figured it out on his own,” Pirates Manager Clint Hurdle said. “The information was there last season as well. A couple things that we were talking about was letting the ball get deeper. We don’t want him to slice the ball to left field, we want him to let the ball to travel because the power that he’s got, he doesn’t need to pull a ball to ride the ball out of the ballpark. As evidence already, this is what we were seeing in BP earlier, when he showed up early. But also, being able to hit from the time that he got in.”

“Last season if you condense his at-bats, over 30 percent of the at-bats were 0-2 counts. That’s tough living for anybody. 30 percent of your at-bats you’re in a 0-2 count, that’s not a secret for success. So being able to hit, letting the ball travel, being able to open up to the bigger part of the field. Those are all things he’s finding balance with them in a much better way.”

Of all the work that Alvarez has put in, the hardest part is learning to trust all that work and put it to use in games. Hurdle said it can be tough to get a guy to trust himself.

“The one thing the good hitters or players [do], they don’t miss the fastball,” Hurdle said. “One of the situations we had with Pedro last year [was] he’s missing the fastballs, fouling them off, swinging at them. So that makes you more susceptible to change-ups and spin when you’re out in front all the time. That’s the other thing that we really feel is going to help him with tremendously as well is seeing him get a better look, reacting better, getting spin or off-speed stuff as well. The trust is there. It’s their at-bat. They’re the only one in the box. I like the way he’s slowing it down and really committing himself to making it happen.”

“It’s the difference between you staying through a ball and you rolling over,” Alvarez said of letting the ball go deep. “We’re talking about a matter of half an inch to an inch. A millisecond — that’s the difference between a rollover and a line drive up the middle.”

“You don’t want to get caught being too relaxed. It’s just a matter of being ready — ready to compete, ready to hit, ready for your pitch so when you get it, you can do something with it.”

Enjoy this story? Pirates Prospects will be switching to a subscription site on 4/13, so that we can continue bringing you the best Pirates coverage there is. For a very small monthly price, you can continue getting articles like this, along with coverage from every minor league city. Get more information here, and subscribe today!

Share This Article

Pirates Notebook: No Reason Meek’s Velocity Won’t Return

Next Story »

Gifted and Talented

  • leadoff

    They spend more time worrying about letting the ball go deep, I spend more time yelling at him to hit the first pitch, the pitchers know the first pitch is a free one, yesterday Worley threw the first pitch down the middle, strike one, I told my wife, this atbat is over, Alvarez when on to strike out, the Pirates are right about the 0-2 counts, Alvarez IMO is not ready to hit when he goes to the plate and when it is 0-2, it is too late for him, here comes the change or some moving pitch and a walk back to the dugout. He might be in an 0-2 count 30% of the time, how often does he get a hit in that 30% bracket? I would like to see that stat.

    • john.alcorn

      5 for 65 with no xbh last year after 0-2 counts. 36K and a .077 avg.

    • pirates21

      yes he needs to be a first ball hitter.

    • millec311

      I believe one of his homeruns was off the first pitch.  not totally sure on that though

    • mikez09

      his batiing average last season with an 0-2 count was .077….

  • TonyPenaforHOF

    We’re ready too Pedro, we’re ready too…

  • millec311

    This is a great article!!  I have been wondering what type of things Pedro has been doing to correct his swing this offseason (especially after he decided not to play winter ball).  I knew he was emphasizing working out for better agility but I had figured that was something that would mostly help out his defense.  I hadn’t thought of the increased flexibility and agility helping him hit the ball deeper in the zone — hopefully that helps out!

Latest Analysis

  • Keller Supak Hinsz

    Even With the New Draft Rules, the Pirates Are Still Loading Up on Projectable Pitchers

    23 hours ago

    From 2008-2011, the Pittsburgh Pirates spent a lot of resources on projectable pitchers out of high school. So far, this approach has led to breakout performances from ...

    Read More
  • Josh Bell made the move to first base over the off-season. (Photo credit: David Hague)

    Why Should You Care About Prospects?

    2 days ago

    Yesterday I had a shorter day than usual. The Pirates had cuts at the MLB level, and a road game. The day was shortened at Pirate City, ...

    Read More
  • Gregory Polanco

    Q&A: Trading Prospects For Rentals, Polanco Concerns, Meadows vs Appel

    3 days ago

    I missed the Q&A last week due to a common problem in Spring Training: I forgot what day it was. It was around 6:00 that I was ...

    Read More
  • Nick Kingham f

    Improving His Two-Seam Fastball will Make Nick Kingham a More Effective Pitcher

    4 days ago

    With Jameson Taillon returning from Tommy John surgery, and unlikely to make an impact at the Major League level early in the year, the top prospect to ...

    Read More
  • Arquimedes Caminero 3

    The Roster Situations That Could Impact the Makeup of the Pirates Bullpen

    6 days ago

    There are less than two weeks remaining in Spring Training, and the one area where the Pittsburgh Pirates had actual position battles is heating up. There were ...

    Read More
  • Jordan Luplow

    How the Pirates are Trying to Stay Ahead of the Curve With the New Draft Rules

    1 week ago

    The 2011 Collective Bargaining Agreement brought a lot of changes to Major League Baseball. The biggest change for the Pittsburgh Pirates came in the draft. From 2008-2011, ...

    Read More
  • Alen Hanson

    The Key For Alen Hanson to Help the Pirates in the Majors This Year

    1 week ago

    When the Pittsburgh Pirates moved Alen Hanson to second base last year, part of the plan was to get him to the majors faster by putting him at ...

    Read More
  • Tyler Glasnow 2

    What the Stats Don’t Tell You About Tyler Glasnow

    1 week ago

    The stat line for Tyler Glasnow’s start at Pirate City yesterday looked great: 3 IP, 0 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 1 BB, 1 K. The lone run ...

    Read More
  • JaCoby Jones Josh Bell

    JaCoby Jones Did Fine in the Move to Shortstop, But Needs to Cut Down on Strikeouts

    2 weeks ago

    The Pittsburgh Pirates drafted JaCoby Jones as an outfielder in the third round of the 2013 draft, then surprised everyone the following year when they moved him ...

    Read More
  • Cody Dickson is a lefty with the upside of a middle of the rotation starter. (Photo Credit: Mark Olson)

    The Mental Adjustment that Led to Cody Dickson’s Dominant 2014 Second Half

    2 weeks ago

    Trusting his stuff and not trying to do too much — that has been the key for left-handed pitcher Cody Dickson so far in his professional baseball ...

    Read More
  • Browse More Articles

    More