LATEST PIRATES BUZZ
As the Pirates brass works towards finalizing their opening day roster, the most intriguing storyline is what to do with first baseman Matt Hague. Hague batting .383 (18-for-47) this spring with a team leading 5 home runs, is making a strong push for a roster spot.
The problem for Hague though, he’s behind Garrett Jones and CaseyÂ McGehee at first base and others at third base.
However, at age 26, is Hague past the development curve where getting regular at-bats in the minor leagues isn’t a big factor for him anymore?
That’s among the factors GM Neal Huntington and his staff are weighing right now.
“There does come a point in time in a player’s development curve where he is prepared to play a role on the Major League team versus getting more at bats in Triple-A, ” Huntington told Inside Pittsburgh Sports.com on Saturday when broached about Hague.
What Huntington hinted at in our conversation this morning is that the biggest factor regarding Hague’s short-term future is whether putting him on the opening day roster in a part-time role will still “ensure continued development”.
Hague who has 13 hits in his last 31 at-bats, batted .309 with 12 home runs and 75 RBI’s in 141 games with Triple-A Indianapolis last season.
***The final three position spots are coming down to Hague, Josh Harrison and Yamaico Navarro. However, if the Pirates start the season with 8 relievers, there will only be two bench spots available.
***The Pirates are very pleased with the backend of their bullpen going into the season. With Joel Hanrahan entrenched as the team’s closer, the team is comfortable with their options in a setup role with Jason Grilli and Evan Meek. Meek is slowly regaining his form, while Grilli has fit in well with the Pirates and is guy Clint Hurdle will rely on this season. Last season, Grilli gave up one hit in 26 plate appearances, during situations with two outs and runners in scoring position.
***2006 first round pick Brad Lincoln is still under consideration to make the team as a long reliever. Team officials and several scouts around the league see Lincoln’s long-term role as a reliever, although Huntington said the team doesn’t intend to close the door on him being a starter at the Major League level. If Lincoln starts in Indianapolis, he’ll be put in a starter role.
*** Reliever Ryota Igarashi was traded to the Toronto Blue Jays for cash considerations or a player to be named later, the Pirates announced on Friday.