Pirates Notebook: Hague Battling for Bench Job

BRADENTON, Fla. — The hit collector. That’s what Pirates Manager Clint Hurdle’s nickname is for infielder Matt Hague.

And that’s exactly what he’s been doing this spring — collecting hits. Over seven Grapefruit League games this spring, Hague has gone 6-for-18 (.333 avg) with a home run and four RBI. The 26-year-old has been a professional hitter his entire Minor League career. In fact, last season with Triple-A Indianapolis, Hague finished the season with 165 hits, which ranked No. 1 in the International League.

So how exactly does Hague fit in with the Pirates right now? Drafted as a third baseman in the 9th round of the 2008 draft, Hague has been getting in work back at the hot corner after primarily playing first base since 2009.

“He’s finding grass. He hit one over the wall,” Hurdle said. “So far as advertised.”

With Garrett Jones and Casey McGehee platooning at first to start the season, Hague will be battling for a utility job this spring.

“Not for the first base platoon, but a shot on the bench somewhere,” General Manager Neal Huntington said of Hague’s role with the club. “That’s where we’re going to push the third base a little bit to see how he can handle that. Can there be multiple positions for him off the bench in a pinch-hit role, part-time role? At the same time, we’ve got some other guys that are in that mix as well that are swinging the bat. We’ve got some depth and some options, but Matt’s had a nice spring.”

Hague, along with Jake Fox and Nick Evans are under consideration for the job. Although statistics in the ‘B’ game held at Pirate City on Saturday don’t count towards Spring Training stats, Hague crushed a two-run homer to left field off the Minnesota Twins’ righty Scott Baker. Hague took the first pitch he saw out of the field, bouncing off the roof of the Pirate City clubhouse well over the 370 foot sign.

“Matt continues to swing the bat well,” Huntington said. “Obviously the home run [Monday] in the ‘B’ game. He’s collected his share of hits, as Clint dropped down, ‘the hit collector.’ We’re getting a good feel from Matt, what he can do, obviously an intelligent hitter.”

Sanchez Was Worth the Admission

First-round pick in the 2009 draft catcher Tony Sanchez impressed Pirates Manager Clint Hurdle during the Pirates 4-1 loss on Monday. Sanchez may have had a disappointing season in 2011, but he’s working hard to prove his potential.

And perhaps his hard work is starting to payoff.

Sanchez went 2-for-2 on Monday throwing out runners attempting to swipe second base. Sanchez caught Phillies’ Kevin Frandsen and Tyson Gilles in the 8th and 9th innings trying to steal a bag.

“For me, the price of admission today paid to two throws by Tony Sanchez,” Hurdle said. “I don’t know if anybody was going to ask me about those, but I think we need to talk about those. You’re not going to see many catchers unload quicker than that more accurate with the velocity he had on those two. They were both 1.85 release time, glove side to the ball at second base. He’s had a much better spring, a much more comfortable spring. He’s receiving the ball very well. He gets down to his knees quicker than anybody I’ve ever had. It’s fun watching. He’s finding his comfort zone a little bit.”

Day of Rest

The Pirates have a scheduled off day today, their first of two off days this spring. The other is on Monday, March 19.

Play resumes on Wednesday for the Pirates (3-7) as the will face the Baltimore Orioles (4-4) in Sarasota at 1:05. Right-hander James McDonald is scheduled to start for the Pirates against Baltimore’s righty Jake Arietta. Following McDonald in relief are: Joel Hanrahan, Jason Grilli, Shairon Martis, Evan Meek and Jared Hughes.

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

Prospect Notebook: Gerrit Cole Is a Special Pitcher

Next Story »

Garrett Jones Seeking Consistency

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Steve-Dimmick/100000318490900 Steve Dimmick

    I find it hard to not route for Hague, doesnt seem like he’s getting as much of a shot as he should, who cares if he doesnt hit 25 bombs?  .300 hitter and gap power is also needed for this club.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_OGCKUSO5MA5VUCJHW2YSJ2K3TM Bob

    I watched the Twins game last night from a few days ago.  McGehee really impressed with not only his hitting but also his fielding, I can see him replacing Alvarez very quickly if he struggles out of the gate.  Also very impressed with McLouth’s approach, almost forgot he hit 20 HR’s and won a gold glove when he was here.  I think this team is poised to be better than last year.  

  • leadoff

    Hague should go to AAA, if he makes this team as a sub and not a platoon player, he will be another Ciriaco.
    I posted after the game what I thought of Sanchez against the Phillies. If what I saw of him is what we are going to get from him, I’ll take him in a heartbeat, love his enthusiasm. 

    • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_OZG2IYY4UIJEND5745XPPUOSHY steve-O K

      Agree.  Hague deserves playing time.  He is an everyday player.  Save him for either an injury or a dissapointing player and let him get the AB in AAA.  Great to see Sanchez motivated and being productive after a bad season. 

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Giraffe-Monsoon/100001295808534 Giraffe Monsoon

    Plus, as Hurdle said, Hague is finding grass, so everyone on the team will love having him around. That alone ought to guarantee him a major league roster spot.

Latest Analysis

  • Alen Hanson f

    Pirates Talk With David Todd: Hanson, Ramirez, Taillon, Kingham, Richard, Worley

    8 hours ago

    I was on 970 ESPN in Pittsburgh this afternoon for my weekly segment with David Todd. The podcast can be heard below. Here is a summary of ...

    Read More
  • Billy Roth is the top prospect in Bristol this year.

    Another Projectable Prep Pitcher Sees An Increase in His Velocity

    14 hours ago

    When discussing the best Pittsburgh Pirates draft under Neal Huntington, the 2011 group has to be at the top of the list. It features Gerrit Cole, Tyler ...

    Read More
  • Arquimedes Caminero

    Breaking Down the Final Pirates Roster Battles After Today’s Cuts

    2 days ago

    With less than a week remaining in camp, the Pittsburgh Pirates made their latest round of cuts this morning, sending three relievers to minor league camp, including ...

    Read More
  • Keller Supak Hinsz

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

    3 days 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?

    5 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

    6 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

    7 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

    1 week 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

    2 weeks 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
  • Browse More Articles

    More