BRADENTON, Fla. – Phil Gosselin helped lead the Pirates to a win today, hitting a grand slam with two outs in the fifth inning in the 6-5 win over the Orioles. Gosselin was also playing left field, which is a position he’s only played three times in the majors, and a few dozen times in the minors. Hurdle said after the game that he’s comfortable giving Gosselin a shot in the outfield.
“My comfort zone is that he’s a Major League player,” Hurdle said. “A very versatile guy. We’re going to get him some reps, and see if that’s something he can work in his tool set. He understands the importance of if he can pull it off. He’ll give it everything he’s got. He’s a complete team player.”
Gosselin’s versatility includes second, third, and shortstop. But the Pirates are giving him a look at first base, and it sounds like he could have a shot at taking the old Sean Rodriguez role.
“We’re also taking a peek at first base,” Hurdle said. “I think there’s a comfort zone over there. I think he’s a guy who could come in and defend, if need be at that position. The outfield, we’ll wait and see, but we’re going to give him a look for sure.”
The Pirates acquired Gosselin prior to Spring Training, sending Frank Duncan to Arizona. He’s one of several super utility players competing for a spot to make the club, and with Jung Ho Kang currently on the restricted list, it seems like there will be another spot open on the team at the start of the year, making it more likely for him to have a shot at making the roster. His versatility can only help his cause.
“Guys that are looking for jobs are going to be real comfortable bouncing around,” Hurdle said. “Guys that want to play in the big leagues are comfortable bouncing around. I don’t have anything along those lines, other than to look at the opportunity that’s available. If you think it’s an opportunity to make the club, I think you’d embrace it and move on it.”
A Kuhl Day at Pirate City
Clint Hurdle joked after the game at LECOM that he was receiving texts from his friends in Pennsylvania about 12 inches of snow, and responded that Bradenton had 12 inches of wind. It was a relatively cold day for Bradenton, and it was definitely Kuhl at Pirate City (hey-yo!) as Chad Kuhl pitched four innings in a minor league game against the Phillies.
“That fourth inning I felt great, and it was the best I felt,” Kuhl said after his start. “It feels really good.”
Kuhl didn’t have too much trouble of his own, but had a few guys getting on via errors, and had one big hit allowed. He managed to work out of it, and was glad he got the chance to work from the stretch, since he struggled in that department the last time out.
“It was nice to get in a stretch and work on some things, timing-wise,” Kuhl said. “I felt pretty bad about my outing in Port Charlotte, just from the stretch standpoint. So it was really nice to get back in the stretch and get some things accomplished. Not flying open. Staying in control and obviously the slider/changeup usage on top of going four innings.”
The Pirates had Kuhl focusing on throwing some back foot sliders as well. They had Jameson Taillon focusing on bouncing the curveball in the dirt, and throwing his breaking pitch at LECOM. The other day they had Tyler Glasnow working on throwing his fastball exclusively when he was behind in the count. It seems that they’re at the point in camp where they want guys working on specific things about their game, regardless of the results. That seemed to work better for Kuhl today, since he was able to do his work in the low-pressure environment of Pirate City. He handled it well, and got closer to being ready for the season by extending out to four innings.
Hurdle on the First Basemen
Clint Hurdle discussed two of the first basemen in camp at great length today, giving thoughts on Jose Osuna and Josh Bell.
Osuna had two walks today, adding a bit of a change to his normal “hitting everything” routine this spring. Hurdle discussed his approach at the plate in detail.
“He’s an educated hitter. I think he’s a mature hitter,” Hurdle said. “Those were more the conversations that I had with everybody that’s had him, other than power. You look at power numbers, guys hit 13 or 14 home runs in the minor leagues, that’s not a power hitter. He’s a line drive hitter that’s got some power. He’s a good hitter that’s got some power. More often than not, those guys when they get to the big leagues, those types of hitters hit more homers. Pitchers are around the plate more. The thing I’ve been impressed with in my early look is he seems to be a pretty good breaking ball hitter. Good eye, can hit a breaking ball. We’ve seen him hit hard and soft.”
Hurdle also discussed Osuna’s work at third base, which Sean McCool wrote about this week. It doesn’t sound like he will get into a game, but the Pirates are laying the groundwork to see if he’s an option.
“I think he’s got some good feet, some good hands to use around first base,” Hurdle said. “We’re going to keep feeding him outfield opportunities as well. We even had him take a few ground balls at third. I don’t think we’ll see him at third here. We haven’t asked him to do it in a game. Maybe some backfield work, just in case. He’s been a nice guy to watch come in and own things, and not be overwhelmed by things.”
Hurdle was also asked about Josh Bell’s drive and knowledge for the game, and had some interesting things to say about the starting first baseman.
“He has a thirst for knowledge,” Hurdle said. “He asks questions. He has curiosity. He wants to know how things work, why they work. His workout plan, he owned this winter. He was the one who went in and did the yoga and the Pilates. He asked me that I thought, I said ‘You’ve got to do some dancing with your girl.’ That would have been my game plan. He came up with something different, so he thought it through a different level than I would have. I appreciate the wisdom. I appreciate the fact that he’s always trying to learn. Not just professionally, but personally. He’s a very engaging young man to talk to.”
**Jameson Taillon threw four innings today, giving up a run while striking out two. He didn’t have the cleanest innings, with a few high pitch counts early, but made it through the outing pretty unscathed.
“He was working down,” Hurdle said. “More down than up. I think he was low. He had to throw some pitches, had some three ball counts. Maybe six of them. The end of the day though, he competes. He finds outs. No walks. Doesn’t hurt himself that way. I liked what I saw from the man, going out and getting stretched out. Got over 60 pitches. It was a good day for Jameson.”
**Josh Lindblom went three innings today at Pirate City. It’s interesting that they’re giving him some starts and innings over at minor league camp, mostly because the Triple-A rotation is pretty full. I’d expect him to be a reliever in Indianapolis, but there could be the chance that he steps into the Triple-A rotation in a Wilfredo Boscan role when an injury or a promotion leaves them short a starting pitcher.
**Tyler Eppler went three innings after Kuhl came off the mound. Eppler was focused today on throwing his new slutter in all counts, including inside to left-handers. The pitch looked pretty effective, getting a few swings and misses, and coming in consistently in the mid-to-upper 80s, which was good separation from his fastball that was sitting around 93.