Barrett Barnes will return to the Bradenton Marauders on Monday, after missing about two weeks with hamstring tightness. The Pirates assigned Barnes to extended Spring Training as a precaution, and he took a week off of playing. After that, he worked on getting built back up. Today at Pirate City he played his first game, going nine innings and going up against Charlie Morton for the first six innings.
“Everything felt good. I did my base running progression, and it felt fine,” Barnes said after the game. “Looks like we’re ready to go.”
Barnes felt the hamstring tightness in the top of the eighth inning, and Bradenton manager Michael Ryan didn’t want to risk making it worse. He removed Barnes from the game, and two days later he was transferred to extended Spring Training, although he did his workouts with the Bradenton team.
Prior to the injury, Barnes had only played five games, but started the season on fire, with a .450/.478/.550 line in 20 at-bats.
“I feel pretty comfortable right now,” Barnes said of his hitting. “I’m hoping that comes back Monday. I felt good out there today, so hopefully Monday I’ll be ready to go.”
Barnes has always been regarded as a good hitter, which is a big reason why the Pirates took him in the first round of the 2012 draft with the compensation pick they received for losing Ryan Doumit. He’s got plus raw power, and that started to show up in Spring Training. Prior to this year, he didn’t get much of a chance to show off his bat in the games, because he dealt with so many injuries. Barnes said he learned some things while he was out, but is looking forward to improving his game on the field.
“You definitely benefit more from being out there than not,” Barnes said. “I’ve learned a lot just from watching and sitting next to Michael Ryan and [Bradenton hitting coach] Ryan Long, and learning stuff throughout the time. Sitting with [2013 Bradenton manager] Tom Prince last year. I’ve learned more of mental aspect and situational hitting that I didn’t know before. I might not have learned it if I was playing. I might have been more worried about other things. So I got stuff out of not playing, but I definitely think I’ll get even more information and more knowledge from playing this year.”
It’s good that the latest issue for Barnes didn’t cost him much time. It will be better if he can return and hit like he was hitting prior to this recent setback. He’s got the bat that could make him a top hitting prospect in the system, but staying healthy and on the field remains the biggest challenge.