Here are some Spring Training notes for your Sunday afternoon.
**Jeff Locke has been recovering from an oblique injury, and threw a bullpen yesterday. Pirates’ General Manager Neal Huntington talked about Locke’s injury and how he needs to get built up for the majors.
“Jeff’s healthy, and now we’ve got to get him built up,” Huntington said. “The clock becomes your enemy when you become a starting pitcher, and you miss some time due to injury. Jeff’s healthy, throwing the ball great, but now it’s a matter of getting stretched out and getting his innings built up.”
If you’re wondering whether he could start the year on the disabled list, that doesn’t really make much sense. If he started on the DL, it would be to get him stretched out, which would occur in starts down in Indianapolis. The alternative is optioning him to Indianapolis, where he would do the exact same thing. Unless his injury prevents him from pitching, I don’t see him going on the DL. And I don’t see him making the active roster on Opening Day.
**Chase d’Arnaud got into the game yesterday playing center field. This was the first time he has played center field for the Pirates, and the move could open up the chance for him to become a super-utility player.
“We’ve had him in the backfields at third, second, short, all outfield positions,” Hurdle said. “We’re definitely looking at moving him around if the opportunity arises.”
**I was watching Gregory Polanco in today’s Triple-A game. Polanco is batting third and playing right field, which is where he will probably hit and play with Indianapolis this year. During one at-bat, he showed off his ability to be a playmaker without being flashy. He drew a walk, displaying the plate patience. After that he stole second, easily beating the throw. Because of his speed, the catcher rushed the throw, which bounced into second right when Polanco was on the bag. The ball skipped through to center field, and Polanco made it to third base easily. Thus, his plate patience and speed led to a “triple”.
**Willy Garcia looked impressive today, hitting two balls to the right-center field gap, including one of those going for a triple. Garcia projects to start the season in Altoona. He’s got a lot of upside, with a ton of raw power, but he’s struggled big time with his plate patience the last few years. That’s going to be a hard jump to go to Altoona, but his potential makes him a guy to follow to see if he can somehow get everything to click.
**Edinson Volquez and Stolmy Pimentel were getting at-bats today in Spring Training, working on their bunting and hitting. I thought this was interesting for Pimentel, as he projects to be a reliever and won’t get many (or any) at-bats in that role. Maybe he’s just preparing to be used as starting pitching depth?
**Jason Grilli threw two shutout innings at Pirate City today, hitting 94 MPH on the radar gun.