Battling for a Starting Job in 2013, Presley Has Offseason to do List

The 2012 season for Alex Presley wasn’t what he, nor the Pirates expected from him. After an impressive rookie season in 2011, where he finished with a .298 average over 52 games in the Majors, Presley broke spring training with the starting job in left field. But the 27-year-old struggled in his sophomore year, and was demoted, not once, but twice to Triple-A Indianapolis to get back on track.

Presley started the season off strong with a .309 clip over the first 19 games of the season. But a 3-for-38 (.079 avg) slump in May sent him to Triple-A for the first trip to the minors to find the success at the plate that he had in 2011. Presley returned to Pittsburgh in June, but his playing time was cut drastically after the Pirates acquired Travis Snider at the trade deadline. The outfielder was sent back to Triple-A again in August to get some more at-bats and sharpen up his game.

Presley put up strong numbers while in the minors — a .307 average, and five home runs in 40 games with Indianapolis — but struggled to translate them into the Majors this season. And heading into the offseason, Presley has a check list of things to work on for spring.

“He’s one of the guys that we’ve talked to about a number of different things to prepare for next season,” Manager Clint Hurdle said. “All of our speed guys, first step quickness. Leads and breaks. Anything they can do agility wise to help from that standpoint.”

“The workouts that he does, the strength is there. He’s got eye opening power sometimes. We want him to get to the point where he’s covering away and reactive…He’s got very usable speed that we need to get into play more. There are a handful of guys that we talked about that needs to work on things. He needs to work on hitting the soft and spin better. How you get that done? There’s a variety of ways. Whether it’s hiring a guy to throw it in the off-season. Whether it’s winter ball in the offseason. Those are options.”

During the final home stand of the season, Presley said they decided not to send him to Instructs to work on bunting and base running like they did the year prior. But instead, getting some extra work in winter ball was something that was discussed. The Pirates currently have two Major leaguers in Kyle McPherson and Daniel McCutchen playing for the Tigres del Licey in the Dominican Republic (Triple-A skipper Dean Treanor is the Manager).

“Winter ball has been brought up,” Presley said. “I’m not sure if that’s going to happen or not. No Instructional league for me this year thankfully. It’s winter ball or just same old off-season routine. We’ll see what happens.”

“Just a lot of working out. I have a routine that works pretty good for me. Each year, I like to come in stronger than the year before. I’ve done a pretty good job at that the past couple years. I look to continue to do that this offseason. I’m not real big so I have to be strong. I try to be in the best shape I can be in.”

“We sent him down to Instructional [last year] to bunt,” Hurdle said. “That didn’t come into play as much as I would have liked this year, or he would have liked. That’s got to be a tool that’s usable for him next year.”

Presley finished the season with a .237 average, 14 doubles, seven triples, 10 home runs and 25 RBI in 104 games with Pirates. Presley led the club with his career-high seven triples, the most by a Bucco since Andrew McCutchen in 2009 (nine), and also hit double digits in homers for the first time in his career.

“I was happy to hit the 10th one,” Presley said of his home runs. “It was big to get double digits. I was pretty pumped. It’s not my game. But it’s always a bonus. The ability to hit it out every now and then. I was happy with how often I was able to do it this season.”

Presley will have to come into Bradenton strong, and put together an impressive spring training in order to break camp with Pittsburgh in 2013. The corner outfield spots are open heading into next year. Unless there are additions made over the offseason, Presley will be one of four guys battling for those two spots. Pittsburgh will also need a fourth outfielder off the bench, but one will have to be the odd man out.

“There’s no secret that Presley and [Jose] Tabata were challenged this season,” Hurdle said. “You’re talking about maybe two positions. And you’ve got four guys in-house right now that you’re going to look at in [Starling] Marte, Snider, Tabata and Presley for the outfield spot. That’s about as transparent and clean cut as you’re going to get.”

“How good do you want to be? How good do you want us to be? That’s something [I told him] to think long and hard about over the winter. What can you put into play this winter? Are you going to show up where we go, ‘wow.’ He didn’t have that when he left.”

“I didn’t stick to my approach to well at times this season,” Presley said. “I’ve got to get better at that.”

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  • scrappy2499

    They have 4 young guys to battle it out. I think Snider and Marte have the inside track but we shall see…

    • Lee Young

      If I am Presley, I hire a guy (Moyer?) to throw me ‘soft and spin’. Plus, I practice bunting my butt off.

      Otherwise, it’s a 4th OFer career for ‘the king’.


  • jlease717

    Wait, he was as bad as he was in stealing AFTER going to Pirate camp for that?

    Ask if he can go to a team who knows how to teach, rather than carrying telephone poles.

  • Fred Langford

    From what I saw from Presley and Tabata, it is going to be very hard for Tabata to beat Presley out. Presley gives consistent hard effort unlike Tabata. Presley got abused on outside pitches this year, often it seemed like they were not in the strikezone and he got rung up. He will have to adjust to this. Garett Jones would be the guy to work with in the offseason…he had the same issues in the past and tightened them up to have a great year. I know Tabata has the guaranteed contract and sadly that usually gives guys an inside track. I would trade Tabata for nothing if some team would pick up 2/3 of his contract.

  • beatembuccos21

    They have things they want him to work on. Yet they didn’t bring him down for instructs and they haven’t committed him to a winter league roster? Sounds like Presley starts off this four horse race as the long shot. Marte has a higher ceiling. NH just traded for Snider. Tabata is locked up and was acquired by NH.

    • jlease717

      If they instructed him last year and he regressed this badly, leave him alone.

  • La Pirate

    I think there is a real good chance Tabata is traded if he is not considered a starter. I dont think he is a starter. Presley is much more adapt at a 4th outfielder. I really dont know about Snider, he doesnt look like a starter either. I think we will see a trade that clears out this situation.

  • buccotime57

    I think Snider/Jones should be in RF with Jones/sanchez at first

  • millec311

    “winter ball or just same old offseason routine” doesn’t really sound like he thinks he has an offseason to-do list

  • Brian Bernard

    I believe it’s time to let Jones have a whole season in the outfield and move him away from 1b. He is serviceable there if needed, but not good by any means. Marte, Cutch, and Jones is a starting 3 you can work with and Presley and Tabata should battle for the 4th spot… I don’t care if they do winter ball or not, but the best player should get it out of spring.

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