Spring Training Notes: Locke, d’Arnaud, Polanco, Garcia, Grilli

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.

Tim Williams

Author: Tim Williams

Tim is the owner and editor in chief of Pirates Prospects. He started the site in January 2009, and turned it into his full time job during the 2011 season. Prior to starting Pirates Prospects, Tim worked with AccuScore.com, providing MLB, NHL, and NFL coverage to various national media outlets, including ESPN Insider, USA Today, Yahoo Sports, and the Wall Street Journal. He also writes the annual Prospect Guide, which is sold through the site. Tim lives in Bradenton, where he provides live coverage all year of Spring Training, mini camp, instructs, the Bradenton Marauders, and the GCL Pirates.

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  • Lee Young

    you need to give up that Willy Garcia crush you have….lol

  • Lee Young

    chase d’arnaud…the next brian bixler???

    lol

  • Jesse Cleaver

    I think right now I would have Pimentel as the guy ready to replace Volquez when he blows. I think Jeff Locke is the next JMac.

    • piraddict

      I am more optimistic about Locke. I think his problem was a lack of confidence to throw pitches early in the count just in instead of just outside of the strike zone. Early last season opponents were swinging at pitches just out of the zone early. After the All Start break batters were more patient, Locke fell behind in counts and he was toast. I think he could become like Greg Karstens when Greg was hot before being hurt, working quickly, changing speeds, changing locations, throwing Strike One, and could have real success. But to improve he needs to make mental adjustments. Let’s hope Searage et al can help him become more aggressive.

  • smurph

    I was one of the people who had high hopes for d’Arnaud. From what I have seen he has a long, looping swing and not the quickest hands moving his bat through the zone.
    To me that means he will never be more than a below-average hitter who is very susceptible to pitchers who change speeds and have late movement on their pitches.

  • glassers

    I watched the pitchers take some batting practice as well as bunting attempts on the back field at McKechnie . I still have a tough time understanding why they have such a hard time laying down a bunt .