Spring Training Notes: February 19
The Pirates, still early in spring training, ran some light drills on Tuesday morning. The regimen consisted mainly of drilling the pitchers on backing up bases, fielding grounders, and numerous pitchers throwing briefly to hitters. Among the pitchers getting some mound work were A.J. Burnett, James McDonald, Gerrit Cole, Jameson Taillon, Jason Grilli, Mark Melancon, and Jeff Locke.
The hitters struggled to get much wood on the ball against Vic Black, another reminder that, if he can get enough pitches over the plate, he has a very high ceiling as a late-inning reliever. Justin Wilson also got some mound time and looked slimmed down from previous years.
The “backup” infield taking grounders included Jordy Mercer and Anderson Hernandez at second; Ivan De Jesus, Jr., and Chase d’Arnaud at short; and Matt Hague and Jared Goedert at third. Clint Robinson was the sole first baseman. It probably isn’t a good idea to read much into the alignments, but it was interesting to see d’Arnaud and De Jesus at short. De Jesus was originally considered a good shortstop prospect, but he lost a step after breaking his leg in 2009 and has played mainly second since then. If the Pirates think he can back up at short, he probably has a good chance to make the team. D’Arnaud playing short over Mercer may indicate the Pirates still regard him as having the higher ceiling, or it may indicate nothing at all.