Outfielder/infielder Eric Hinske, the Pirates top free agent signing this off-season, made his first appearance today in Bradenton. Hinske showed some power today in batting drills and he seems to believe he can have a 25 homerun season in 09. Hinske, 31, hit 20 home runs last season and signed a one year $1.5 million deal last month.
Hinske sees Pittsburgh as a opportunity to improve his stats and hit the free agent market next season when hopefully the economy will be better. Hinske’s primary goal in spring training is to be the teams starting left fielder on opening day.
If the first two days of workouts are any indication, the Pirates are going to go through a tougher spring training then they went through last season. Manager John Russell doesn‚Äôt have his players doing too much sitting around as they are constantly moving from different stations for particular drills.
Saturday saw 18 pitchers throw bullpen sessions while today only 9 pitchers threw sessions. Among them was Paul Maholm who just signed a new contract in the off-season. Maholm worked extensively on his pickoff move.
The others were Tom Gorzelanny, Daniel McCutchen, Jeff Karstens, Zach Duke, Jason Davis, Dave Davidson and Denny Bautista.
McCutchen showed good velocity and the Pirates seem to think he is a sleeper in camp.
Getting rid of the extra weight will hopefully help Gorzelanny perform better than he did in 08.
This is a crucial year for Zach Duke. Duke was 5-14 last season and it might be time for the Pirates to turn the corner.
Outfielder Brandon Moss who claims to be 100% did not seem like he was getting much power from his legs in batting practice today. Moss had surgery in the off-season to repair a divot forming in the bone of his left knee
Tuesday at noon ‚ÄúOfficial Workouts begin‚Äù. All players must report by Monday. ¬æ of the players are already in Bradenton.
If the coaching staff uses Andrew McCutchen the right way, he is going to be a great asset to have at the top of the lineup. McCutchen ran sprints today and also ran the base pads. He gets a great jump off of his first couple steps. For the Pirates to be competitive in the next couple years they have to play like the Minnesota Twins and be aggressive on the base pads.
McCutchen was also among a handful of players to take part in batting practice today.