BRADENTON, Fla. — It may be infielder Matt Hague’s first big league camp, but he has quickly made quite an impression already this spring training. In Monday night’s 10-3 win over the Baltimore Oriole’s in Sarasota, Fla., Hague went 3-for-4 with a run, homer and three RBI batting cleanup as the Bucs designated hitter.
Hague’s two-run bomb came in the 3rd inning off O’s reliever Kevin Gregg on an 0-1 pitch, sailing over the wall in left-center field.
“It was exciting,” Hague said. “I had a lot of fun.”
After hitting the homer, Hague, 26, was greeted in the dugout by teammate Garrett Jones. Hague said he was one of the guys he’s learning the most from during camp.
“We was just kind of talking about what I saw,” Hague said. “We were talking about the approach, how you attack that guy. I look up to him. I’ve learned a lot from him this spring. He’s easy to talk to.”
Hague has a chance of breaking camp with the Pirates and has been working hard this off-season on getting work in at third base. Hague, who was drafted as a third baseman in the 9th round of the 2008 draft, started playing first base regularly in 2009. So far this spring, Hague has made one appearance as a pinch-hitter and two as the teams DH.
“I told him not to give away his gloves,” Pirates Manager Clint Hurdle said. “We’re going to get him out on the field here sooner than later, but we’re just making sure we feed him some at-bats early.”
Hague had a solid 2011 season in Triple-A, which earned him a spot on the Pirates 40-man roster in December. Hague led the International League in hits (165), games (141) and at-bats (534) while ranking third in doubles (37) and sixth in batting average (.309). Hague also set career highs in hits and doubles and became the first Indy player to lead the league in hits since Junior Noboa in 1989.
Hurdle’s nickname for Hague? ‘The hit collector.’ And so far this spring, he’s proving to do just that.
“He’s finding grass. He hit one over the wall,” Hurdle said. “So far as advertised. We’ll just continue to get him work. We’ll get him on both corners as well. He’s been a professional hitter throughout his career.”