Day 28: Pirates @ Phillies
The keystone state rivalry renews its roots again… OK, so it’s still March, but I have to try and get the enthusiasm rolling somehow.
A few notes from my clubhouse stop this morning:
- Brandon Moss was back in Bradenton after making a quick roundtrip drive to and from GA for a family situation. I also asked about his sprained right thumb and got an encouraging smile. The swelling has gone down significantly, though there is still no specific timetable for his progression back to playing.
- Spent some time chatting with first base coach and infield guru Perry Hill for a story I’ll be rolling out next week and got some nice extra nuggets as well. Hill lauded the progress Shelby Ford has made this spring, saying that defensively, Ford looks like he’s ready for the Major League level.
- Hill also talked about the progress made by all sorts of his infielders. He called Brian Bixler one of the most improved (defensively) this spring. He also talked about Freddy Sanchez’s new throwing motion, which is expected to reduce the strain on his shoulder.
- The emphasis on utility infielders being able to play all five positions is something Hill and I talked about as well. Bixler doesn’t know it yet, Hill joked, but he’ll be getting some work at first base next week, as Hill insists that every utility infielder should be able to play anywhere across the diamond. And — I’ll have to ask John Russell about this sometime — apparently when Russell was a player with the Rangers, Hill (a coach in the organization) required him to come out and take infield practice at all four spots just to make sure Russell could fill in if necessary. Russell, a catcher, wasn’t too pleased, Hill recalled, but Hill wanted Russell to get the experience because he knew Russell would be a manager down the road and would need to understand all positions.
As for today’s lineups…
- Nyjer Morgan (LF)
- Andrew McCutchen (CF)
- Andy LaRoche (3B)
- Ryan Doumit (DH)
- Steve Pearce (RF)
- Garrett Jones (1B)
- Robinzon Diaz (C)
- Brian Bixler (2B)
- Luis Cruz (SS)
Pitchers: Zach Duke, Daniel McCutchen, Matt Capps, Brian Slocum, Dave Davidson, Jeff Sues