3B Alvarez will remain with Pirates after camp
Pedro Alvarez will remain the Pittsburgh Pirates’ starting third
baseman, despite a deep batting slump that began last season and
has carried over into spring training.
In Grapefruit League play, Alvarez is hitting .133 and has
struck out in 13 of 30 at-bats.
However, two of his four hits were home runs, and general
manager Neal Huntington cast aside the notion that Alvarez might
not break camp with the Pirates.
”The rumors of him starting at Triple-A have never come from
the Pirates,” Huntington said. ”It’s been outside speculation.
It’s not what we’ve thought (of doing). We asked him to do some
things coming into spring training and he’s done those. He’s going
through a tough stretch right now.
”Are we going to be able to get him out of it? We believe we
Last season, Alvarez hit .191 with four homers and was limited
to 74 games due to a quadriceps injury. He has missed the past
three spring training games with what the team has called ”minor
irritation” in his left knee, but he is expected to be back in
action this week.
Although the Pirates urged him to play winter ball this past
offseason, Alvarez instead worked out on his own with a trainer in
”I have a little more flexibility in my swing,” he said, ”and
I’m able to stay through some balls and let the ball get
Alvarez also added a toe tap to his swing as a timing mechanism,
and has admitted it’s taken a while to feel comfortable with the
”He uses it to gather himself, get himself in a position where
he feels athletic,” Pittsburgh manager Clint Hurdle said. ”When
that front foot hits the ground, he needs to be in a good
foundation, with his hands in a strong position, to get to the ball
and stay through it.”
Alvarez was drafted second overall in 2008 and received a
four-year, $6.355 million contract with a $6 million signing bonus.
He made his big league debut in 2010 and hit .256 with 16 home runs
in 74 games.
Huntington indicated Alvarez would benefit more from remaining
in the majors as an everyday player than by going back to
”There are times when guys are able to get away with flaws at
Triple-A that they can’t get away with at the major league level,”
Huntington said. ”He may be one of those guys. There are guys who
are tremendous Triple-A performers and they need to learn and
adjust at the major league level. We can’t put too much stock in
Triple-A performance, good or bad, or spring training performance,
good or bad.”
A left-handed batter, Alvarez has a career .211 batting average
against lefty pitchers. The Pirates are slated to face several
tough southpaws in the first two weeks of the season, which could
put Alvarez on the bench.
”While I don’t anticipate a platoon setting,” Huntington said,
”we may protect some of our young left-handed hitters against the
likes of (Los Angeles’ Clayton) Kershaw, (Philadelphia’s Cliff) Lee
and (San Francisco’s Madison) Bumgarner.”
The Pirates, who opened up 4-2 and 9-7 last season, are hoping
for a strong start this time around, as well, though the schedule
is not kind. In the season’s first three weeks, the Pirates play
the last two World Series champions – San Francisco and St. Louis –
and they open the season with three games at home vs. the