Not quite yet, but it's in sight. Pitchers and catchers report one week from today.
After the Super Bowl, I flipped to the Mexico vs. Dominican Republic game in the Caribbean Series, which went into extra innings. Watching Fernando Tatis argue a called strike three felt like home. It was a taste of competitive baseball, but the next two months will feature little of that.
Spring training features a lot of insignificant goings-on, and plenty of time to talk about them. Remember last spring? "How will the Pirates fit Yamaico Navarro, Matt Hague and Josh Harrison on the roster?" we worried. "They're all tearing the cover off the ball!" How long were those concerns relevant?
So, here are some things we will watch for during spring training that have broader impact this season. These are, of course, in addition to "Is Francisco Liriano on the roster, on a major league contract, and when can he start throwing?"
1. How do the Pirates address the running game?
This goes for both offense and defense. The Pirates have usable speed in Andrew McCutchen, Starling Marte and Alex Presley. How well do they run?
The team also needs to hold runners better. We will watch for varied release times and better pickoff moves.
2. Who do they see as a potential starter?
Are Justin Wilson, Chris Leroux or anyone else stretched out and possible starters in Class AAA Indianapolis? Wilson could make the major league bullpen and the Pirates could see Leroux as a long man as well.
3. How might Clint Hurdle transition to Jason Grilli?
Though we cannot assume Hurdle will use regular-season tactics in spring, especially while the pitchers are still extending their arms, it stands to reason that he will tip his hand in some of the later games. If the Pirates lead after five or six, what combination of Mark Melancon, Jared Hughes, Vin Mazzaro, Tony Watson and friends take the final few innings?
|< Prev||Next >|
You must be a registered user to post. Commenting system instructions