Pirates Notebook: The New SeanRod? Plus Notes on Kuhl, Osuna, Bell, Taillon, and More

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.”

Other Notes

**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.

Tim started Pirates Prospects in 2009 from his home in Virginia, which was 40 minutes from where Pedro Alvarez made his pro debut in Lynchburg. That year, the Lynchburg Hillcats won the Carolina League championship, and Pirates Prospects was born from Tim's reporting along the way. The site has grown over the years to include many more writers, and Tim has gone on to become a credentialed MLB reporter, producing Pirates Prospects each year, and will publish his 11th Prospect Guide this offseason. He has also served as the Pittsburgh Pirates correspondent for Baseball America since 2019. Behind the scenes, Tim is an avid music lover, and most of the money he gets paid to run this site goes to vinyl records.

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Polanco just hit a homer 🙂


We need a translator for Hurdle

joe s

Why isn’t Hanson getting any reps this Spring? I thought he would play today but never got the chance. If Goose is super u, then Hanson is on another team as he will not get through waivers. Very bad decision.


Great timing, 3 for 5, 2 runs scored, a double and a big compliment from Hurdle.

Bobby L

“He finds outs”. Very complimentary quote by CH about Taillon.

Bobby L

Josh Bell will succeed. Great attitude. Such a good example, especially compared to a former third baseman turned first baseman turned outfielder who showed no willingness to go the extra mile.

Darrell Jones

Agreed. I really didn’t want him to go in the Quintana deal. I think he is going to become a special player. The defense will come. He will get better, because he isn’t a guy who is fine with being a crappy defensive player. The dude is constantly trying to become a better player.




John said it was a slider-cutter, below


Maybe Tim could do one of those articles that shows the differences in grip on the ball for a slider, cutter and slutter.


Since he will be subbing for all of the starters, maybe we can call him Phil-in

Matthew R

Is Hansen being considered for the roster spot that seems more likely to go to Gosselin? And would it be fair to characterize Alen as having more upside with the bat and less versatility?


My two cents would be Hanson is more versatile too. It is just that he is less focused. I would argue he is better at Gosselin’s three primary positions – 2B, SS, and 3B. I would assume with Hanson’s speed and athleticism, he would also be better in the OF.

Bobby L

When Gosselin was picked up, I was like “why” and we gave up Duncan for another versatile infielder? But, I’ve been impressed so far. I will miss Duncan tho. One of last season’s best MiLB stories.


Harrison, Frazier, Hanson, Gosselin, Bostick, Ngoepe, Moroff, Weiss, and a kid by the name of Newman. Jaso and Osuna are still available as back up 1B/OF. How many are on the 40 man?

It’s at the point where you stop caring and say just pick a few and get rid of 5 or 6 of the others, just so one of them leaving is the $18 mil guy.

CH has comfort because Gosselin is a major league player . . . a versatile guy – heard that before?

John Dreker

Since Kang won’t be ready by Opening Day due to his visa issues, it appears they don’t have to choose between Gosselin and Hanson. I think Hanson is almost guaranteed a spot due to not having any options left. He would be taken if they tried to send him through waivers. Now they don’t have to make that decision on Opening Day. Kang will probably need a month before he plays, and that is once he gets to camp


Hurdle has to play Hanson. If they carry him and don’t play him, what is the point of keeping him around.


It wouldn’t surprise me if a few changes are made in the bullpen before the end of spring training.

John W

How is Josh Bell’s knee? Why wasn’t he in lineup today after a day off?

John Dreker

He didn’t play because it’s Spring Training and some guys do extra work instead of playing 4-5 innings. If there was an injury, we would have heard about it during the injury updates, which are done every Wednesday morning (see article about Marte from earlier today)

Eric Marshall

Are we seriously going to keep trotting Hughes out there? Terrible last year and horrendous this spring.

Bobby L

This might be a case where spring training means something. Somehow he keeps getting worse.


I don’t see how they could he has an option just put him in triple A. I think they still need to trade Bastardo or LeBlanc. Bullpen right now is Watson, Hudson, Rivero, Nicasio, Bastardo, Light or schugel, and Webb. That’s four lefties need to trade one and maybe pick up a right handed reliever or roll with schugel and light or maybe Neverauskas.


I don’t think it matters since Watson and Rivero are LH. They will pitch to anyone. And with the odds of the starters being all RH it makes sense to have more LH pitching in the bullpen. The downside is you may use your bull pen more often.


But LeBlanc and Bastardo aren’t any good. Think santana, light, Neverauskas,, or even Hutchison would be a better option than both of those guys. But I definitely see what you are saying.


santana baby

John Dreker

Before anyone asks, the “slutter” for Eppler is a slider-cutter combo and that’s what it’s been called, akin to the slider-curve combo being a slurve. For Eppler, the pitch is meant to give him a better strikeout pitch.


I worked on my slutter a lot when I was his age too.



You can try to pre-empt it, but it won’t make a lick of difference…



Nothing better than a nasty slutter.


The best slutter is one you can pound in the dirt at will 😉


Just make sure to wash your hands afterwards

michael t

I know some guys who were really good slutters, although they were proud to carry the title of “hoganmeister” as well. In their glory at spring break in Florida.


…and heeeere we go!…


Best pitch name ever.




I can’t wait to hear Greg Brown say it on air.


I’ll be waiting on Blass’ commentary. 😉


Hopefully Blass is out of the booth by the time Eppler and his little slutter arrive in Pittsburgh…


Everyone has announcers they don’t like. Blass is a favorite of mine.

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