Pirates Notebook: The Biggest Takeaways From the First Full Squad Workout

BRADENTON, Fla. — The Pirates went through the first day of full-squad workouts on Monday, and there weren’t many surprises as the position players joined the pitchers and catcher for drills, workouts, live batting practice, and defense.

The Pirates placed most of their returning major-league position players in the same group, and it was a pretty clear preview of a potential Opening Day lineup with catcher Francisco Cervelli, first baseman Josh Bell, second baseman Josh Harrison, shortstop Jordy Mercer, third baseman Colin Moran, and outfielders Adam Frazier, Gregory Polanco and Starling Marte. They were joined by reserves Elias Diaz, David Freese, Jordan Luplow, Daniel Nava, Kevin Newman, Jacob Stallings, and Cole Tucker.

Nava played first base, a position he doesn’t have that much experience with at the Major League level. He has 267.1 career innings played at that position in the majors, and just 14.2 with the Phillies in 2017.

The Pirates have loved their bench players to have positional versatility. That’s one of the reasons that Jose Osuna (who worked out with the second group on Monday) has been playing third base and it’s why Nava is working out a first.

“Being able to move around will help him,” manager Clint Hurdle said. “We’ve got a first baseman in play in Josh. Spring Training is going to help (Nava) get at-bats. Playing both outfield corners will help him get at-bats. As you look to put your bench together, he’s a guy who has shown the ability to do it at the Major League level.”

The Pirates went through 2017 with a bench of mostly young players like Frazier and Osuna and they didn’t always perform well in pinch-hitting or part-time roles. They hope that the more-experienced Nava can step right into a bench role and keep a younger player on the field full-time in Indianapolis.

“It’s very challenging to break in young players that have played every day throughout their minor league career, and then you get them on the bench in the big leagues and they try to figure that out,” Hurdle said. “It was very challenging for Osuna last year. Sometimes that’s the way you’ve got to go. This acquire was for a veteran man who has done it. Shown the ability to give you good at-bats late in the game, that help you win a game. And as I’ve done with any player who plays off the bench, if you’re going to ask him to pinch-hit, you need to give him starts to keep him sharp and keep the swing in place. All of that goes into his package.”

Nava said that he wanted to get over to first base as often as possible early in the spring to get re-acquainted with the position.

“I haven’t done a lot of it, that’s why I’m trying to work over there as much as I can,” Nava said. “Because when I do get over there, it’s not usually consistent, so I just need as many reps as I can get. Spring is a good time to do that.”

Nava is trying to lock down a bench spot, and the additional versatility won’t hurt. It seems likely that there’s two spots to go between Luplow, Max Moroff, Nava, and Osuna.


On the second field, Moroff and Osuna were joined by Chris Bostick, Todd Cunningham, Jason Martin, Austin Meadows, Pablo Reyes, Bryan Reynolds, Sean Rodriguez, Erich Weiss, and Eric Wood.

Kramer and Rodriguez played shortstop, Bostick and Moroff were at second, Osuna and Reyes at third, and Weiss and Wood at first.


Meadows was in the same group as Martin, who was acquired in the Gerrit Cole trade, and Reynolds, acquired for McCutchen. It’s a group with some positional versatility. Reynolds came up as a center fielder with the Giants before branching out and playing some corner outfield last season. Martin played both center and left in the Astros’ system.

That means that the Pirates will be able to move Meadows around and get him prepared for a major-league opportunity, wherever a need arises.

“Austin has played multiple spots in the outfield,” Hurdle said. “Some days it’s going to be what we need for the drill, and then when we go, game-ready stuff. … He’s going to need to arrive first before I’m going to get involved in that decision-making process. Just let the man play and get him on the field, get a nice big volume of at-bats and do some things athletically that are going to get his confidence going.”


Chad Kuhl impressed in his live BP session against the likes of Bell, Moran and Polanco. He almost broke Moran’s bat with an in-running two-seamer. … Minor leaguers Dario Agrazal and Tyler Eppler also pitched to that group. … Yeudy Garcia looked good against some of the veteran non-roster invitees. … Lefty reliever Jack Leathersich got positive remarks for some nice spin on his breaking ball, but Martin, a lefty hitter, was able to get a couple knocks against him.

  • Guess Hurdle has already made up his mind that VETERAN Nava is going to make the team and prevent a younger player from breaking in. Guess they are going for it this year after all.

  • What really jumps out about these position players is that they’ve managed to assemble a group who’s light hitting *and* poor defending, with literally all of their “good” gloves 30 or older.

    Sorry, Marte will be 30 in seven months. Youth!

    • omg where did the time go?

    • That’s exactly right. It blows my mind how every young infielder or outfielder who’s come up over the last two seasons simply cannot field any position well. Actually I guess the jury is still out on Moroff but other than him there are a lot of young players on the team with below average defensive skills.

  • I don’t think the issue is personally with Nava. The issue is that there are still free agents out there that could make an impact on this team in a year where there should be money available. Guys like Moose and CarGo could make this team much better.

    • i bet Frazier has more WAR per PA than Car Go 🙂

      the FA that i think would improve the team the most is Jon Lucroy.

      i’m not saying he’s better than Jake Arrieta, but i’m saying that the gap between a Lucroy-Cervelli tandem and a Cervelli-Diaz tandem is probably bigger than the gap between Arrieta and Musgrove/Kuhl/Williams

      • I’m curious what is going to happen with Arrieta. Don’t see Arrieta as realistic but part of me believes JD went for something the Pirates could have afforded – whether he’d want to come here another story – maybe Arrieta could be had and I know he would love to be back in the central would be an incredibly bizarro situation.

      • I like the idea of adding Lucroy but would hate to lose Diaz for nothing. If Cervelli can stay healthy Diaz will be a great backup. That’s a huge IF though. Really wish they still had Reese

        • Don’t want to forget about Stallings either. Hopefully 2017 wasn’t a fluke! He could be a starter.

          • honestly i’m more optimistic about Stallings than Diaz at this point.

            Stallings has a good season in AAA.

            Diaz cannot say the same.

        • I get it is crazy to go with 3 catchers but that’s probably what it would take.

        • i think a lot has to happen for Diaz to become a great backup, or even a good backup, but that’s just me.

          • Diaz flashed at times a gap hitter who can play at the MLB level. His minor league career always suggested a very good defensive catcher that was good at framing. Last year though his framing was awful. I believe we will see a better Diaz this year.

            • Framing is definitely one of those things that need to get better.

              if he goes from bad framing to good framing, and gets on base a little more often, then yeah he’ll be a *Strong* backup.

              but that’s *a lot* to ask and it’s still not a great player.

              even then, that’s a skillset that you can buy for…what… 4 million on the open market if/when you need it. If Lucroy said he’d come here for 1 year, and the cost was risking that Diaz doesnt make it through waivers, i take that risk every single time.

              • That’s 4 million reasons why it won’t happen!!!

                • i’m just saying that losing Diaz wouldnt be worth losing sleep over if it happened as a result of bringing in a Lucroy.

                  that’s all.

              • how about robo-umps that call balls/strikes based on where the ball actually is vs a catcher trying to deceive the official? Ohhh maybe someday (I’m sure I’ll scream for electronic/laser strike zone at least 5 times in every single game I watch this year lol)

        • I personally would take Diaz over Cervelli. With Cervelli catching there are no singles unless they run like Casey Hampton

      • I’d much rather have Moose than anyone else. Move Bell back to RF, Moran to 1B and Moose at 3B. How much can he cost at this point?

        • i can’t say i’m not kinda curious to see what Bell would look like out there.

          his bat just isn’t special at 1b. it’s very good from RF.

    • The bat that would be better than Nava would be Adam Lind. His defense is not good, but he had a really good season last year and he is still looking for work.

  • Looks like Newman is just another failed first round pick from NH. I dont understand why Kramer is getting looks at SS I didn’t think his defense was even as good as Newman. Moroff I believe should get some looks at SS if the power was real and the defense in SSS last year was real he could be better than Mercer and close the gap to Tucker. I like Kramer a lot at second base though. Kid seems to hit.

  • rickmontgomery
    February 20, 2018 7:52 am

    I don’t know why people are so upset about Nava being given a chance to make the team as a bench player. He seems to be something of a late bloomer in terms of his ability to get on base and has proven himself capable of producing in a pinch hitting role. Sure, he’s not an answer long-term or as a starter, but he seems like a decent player who may well prove to be a significant upgrade on John Jaso. Give the guy a chance.

    • Honestly, i’m starting to like having Nava around.

      Marte will need days off / might get hurt.

      they’ll probably put frazier or polanco in CF.

      against righties when Marte is out, i think Nava taking one of the corners will be… dare i say… quite good

      Same with Bell… if he’s hurt or resting… i can think of a lot worse options than Daniel Nava.

      he’s the hitter that John Jaso was *supposed to be*, but at 1/4 the price, wont be a starter, and he can ACTUALLY play outfield. that’s a nice bench guy on a team.

      • My issue with it is… he is 35 on a rebuilding team. He is taking the spot of someone we need to get experience and see what we have to win this year or next. Whether that be Moroff, Luplow or Osuna.

        • Didn’t you hear Nutting? We are NOT rebuilding, we are working on bringing home World Series #6….pay attention 🙂

          • too funny. personally i think they could compete this year. just not signing these cast offs. should embrace the youth movement and let that be the excitement and drive to make this team winners. 🙂

        • But I also get why they would not want young players to sit on the MLB bench. Better for Osuna and Luplow (and maybe Moroff) to play every day in AAA, and then come up and start if someone like Marte or Polanco gets hurt.

          Personally, I want Luplow to start in left, Moroff to AAA, and Frazier to the bench.

          • I hear you. To a point i agree but we have somewhat of a backlog of talent that needs to rise and if Moroff doesn’t get his chance this year… does he block Newman, Kramer or Tucker? No and thus would end his sincere shot to make it. Same with Luplow… if he heads back to AAA, who gets the call in June… Meadows or Luplow? Osuna can backup first and third or go to AAA.

          • Moroff deserves a spot in MLB every bit as much as, and maybe more than, Luplow

        • If luplow already had a full season of AAA PAs, i’d probably agree with you more.

          if theyre out of the race in July, i sure hope they’ll DFA Nava and bring up the kids.

          until then, i’m pretty okay with it.

        • I think Luplow, in particular, would be well served to be playing every day if he’s not starting in left. Osuna and Moroff are probably players 25 and 26, which means both of them will be up for most of the year, unless the team plans on never having an injury.

          • thank you Alan. If Meadows turns things around and is ready by June… does Luplow get a real shot given Polanco and Marte won’t be replaced unless injured. We would also have Frazier as the 4th outfielder. Really wanting to see if Luplow can transition to MLB.

    • You lost me when the best you can say for him is a comp to Jason who was one of the worst FA signings ever!!! Surpassed by possibly only Rod Barajas

  • I am very excited about the rotation and Bell. If the rotation is healthy and Glasnow and Brault supplement we could see many quality starts this year.

    • lots to be excited about IMO. I think the rotation and bullpen can be very good. Watching Bell grow, seeing if Moran can do his thing. A healthy Polanco and full year of Marte. Now I don’t have World Series aspirations but I will be entertained all summer

      • The bullpen will be the shining star rotation has potential hopefully doesn’t tax the stuffing out of the pen the offense will make everything high leverage unfortunately.

  • Daniel freaking Nava is going to break camp with this team. Talent-wise, I am not sure he is one of the 30 best hitters(which is what he will be there for) at the upper 3 levels of the organization.

    Secondly, why would you start Frazier over Luplow. In all seriousness, this team might not hit 80 HR’s this year.

    • They’ll get over 80 HR’s because Moran is going to hit 80 himself.

    • Because Frazier is capable of hitting .300 (granted not much power) and some speed, and although I like Luplow he may hit 230 or 240 with maybe 15 homers.

      • I am not sure what makes you think Frazier will hit .300,but even if he does, I would take my chances with Luplow before I would Frazier. In all honesty, I would take either one in a full time/part time roll over Daniel Nava.

        • Couldn’t agree more. The idea of keeping Nava on the team vs. giving a real shot to Luplow, Moroff or Osuna is a joke. Playing him at first base… really?

    • I would go with Frazier as I think he’s a perfect lead-off hitter and can play defense in left field. The sense I have (and I could be wrong) on Luplow is that he’s not as good an outfielder, and that can be a problem in left at PNC. I am, of course, of the old school, believing a run saved is worth at least as much as a run scored.

      • I am more of a believer in the theory of “hit in more than you let in.”

      • Pittsburgh Pirates 2018 Opening Day.

        1. Adam Frazier LF (L)
        2. Josh Harrison 2B (R)
        3. Starling Marte CF (R)
        4. Josh Bell 1B (S)
        5. Gregory Polanco RF (L)
        6. Francisco Cervelli C (R)
        7. Colin Moran 3B (L)
        8. Jordy Mercer SS (R)

        Sean Rodriguez UTIL
        Daniel Nava OF/1B
        David Freese 3B/1B
        Elias Diaz C
        Max Moroff 2B/SS/3B

        This is your opening day roster. Osuna will play 3B everyday in AAA and Luplow will get more at bats in AAA. Moroff will be on the team as a true defensive replacement for SS AND 2B since AAA will be crowded with Middle infield prospects.

        • Think you nailed it there

        • not sure that’s my lineup order, but i think you nailed the personnel

          • Yes – as we sit right now that certainly would have to be one of the favorites, in terms of who breaks camp. Line-ups are funny I always seem to disagree with almost every line-up that I see, like I know better :), but his suggestion certainly seems reasonable….

            • Harrison at #2 just left an especially sour taste in my mouth haha.

              ultimately it doesnt really matter much.

              • I had a feeling that would be your (others as well) issue and I get why. I suppose Frazier might make the most sense to bat 2nd… but I do like the idea of some combination of those top 5 in those spots… always like having my catcher, unless compelling batting later (I have my reasoning) and a heroic spring by Moran would throw a wrench into it for sure 🙂

                • i’m probably too attached to all the “your best hitter 2nd” stuff and all the “your #3 hitter comes up with 2 outs bases empty too much” propaganda.

                  If i had my druthers, i’d be going Frazier-Bell 1-2.

                  I’d be okay with Harrison at 3, if i’m buying the “#3 isn’t that important” propaganda.

                  and like you say, Moran could be the X factor here. if he’s the .300 hitter that Luhnow says he is, then he’s the #2 guy. although i’m sure they don’t wanna stack two lefties at the top.

                  • yeah I hear ya mate… I probably have some bias due to being old, as I ignore changes in life, on having a guy who gets on base batting first with some speed, a guy who can handle the bat batting 2nd then best guy 3rd, bopper 4th, next best 5th and so on and so forth. But if some constructed that line-up in that way, I’m sure I would find issues with it 🙂 🙂

                    • i think Bell can handle the bat! i dont think we’re that far from agreement 🙂

                    • I think we may have a slight different definition on what we mean by handling the bat for the guy batting 2nd, but as I argue with myself now, it is only one/1st inning so maybe I need to get away from caring about that -so yes “not far from agreement” 🙂

      • Frazier isn’t good defensively anywhere. Luplow isn’t either, bat is only thing that drives any value from either one. It comes down to power vs. avg.

        • Frazier rated positive last year for Defense. Cutch on the other hand… was a negative.

      • Luplow also needs another year in AAA for his own good.

    • there are criticisms you can make of Daniel Nava and the concept of having him around.

      but my goodness, the man can hit… righties, at least.

      .281/.374/.404 line against righties career.

      of course he is one of the 30 best hitters in the organization. my goodness.

      • So for his career he is slightly better against RHP than Adam Frazier, not really a glowing endorsement.

      • Those are NOT killer numbers. Not someone you find a spot for in hopes he can bring that line to this team as a time stealer from the bench.

        • never said it was killer.

          i was arguing against the statment “Talent-wise, I am not sure he is one of the 30 best hitters(which is
          what he will be there for) at the upper 3 levels of the organization.”

          • Got it. Thought with the “My Goodness he can hit Righties” was a glowing endorsement on his ability to hit right handed pitchers. If he was not mid 30’s i would say give him a shot but he isn’t and will only block Luplow, Moroff, Osuna, not to mention playing time for Frazier knowing veteranosity always trumps young talent with Hurdle.

      • Last years v right split was far better than career. Playing him at first is what threw me for a loop.

      • Every time you say “My goodness” I just hear DK. Toss in a Hoka Hey and you win the prize!