Greetings from St. Louis

While the Pirates try to recover from that heartbreak ending last night (yes, I saw the unfortunate highlights), I’m at Busch Stadium to begin three days of All-Star coverage. And as I learned while I was on the field here earlier, I’ll be seeing Zach Duke before next weekend afterall.

Anyways, the festivities here all start with the All-Star Futures game this afternoon, with Pedro Alvarez and Brad Lincoln representing the Pirates on the US team. Got some time to speak with Alvarez after he took batting practice earlier — yes, he knocked one out into the grassy area over the 400-foot wall in dead center. He is hitting fifth and the DH for the US team, which is laced with some big-name hitting prospects, among them Jason Heyward (ATL), Josh Vitters (CHC), Tyler Flowers (CWS) and Chris Carter (OAK).

I apologize for the quality of the photos, but here are some shots I snapped of Alvarez earlier:

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Obviously, he was inundated with media requests, as much as any other player roaming around the field.

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Much like Spring Training, I made sure not to miss Alvarez’s BP session.

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And of course, a moment to stop and talk with ESPN’s Peter Gammons in between swings.

Asked if the media hoopla surrounding his climb through the Majors has gotten at all exhausting, Alvarez smiled. “I did expect it. I knew I would get a lot of attention and I’ve just embraced him.”

After hitting .247 with 14 homers and 55 RBIs in 66 games with Single-A Lynchburg, Alvarez has hit just .214 (with four doubles, three homers, eight RBIs) in his first 15 games in Double-A. Alvarez acknowledged that he’s facing tougher pitchers now that he’s with Altoona, though he’s still frequently being pitched around.

“I’m continuing to see more pitches,” Alvarez said. “In Double-A, their stuff is a little bit better. I’m definitely being challenged more.”

And as for his defense? “It’s getting better. I just feel like playing every day and getting out there more is going to help it.” Alvarez has five errors in 15 games with Altoona after committing 13 with Lynchburg.

More to come from Lincoln a bit later… and results from this game will follow, too, though I’m not optimistic that this game is actually going to start on time after looking at the weather radar. Stay tuned.

***

Futures 008.jpgUPDATE 1:35 pm: We made it through the top of the first before the storm hit. With 60-mph winds and plenty of lightening and thunder nearby, we’re going to be waiting this one out for a while. Definitely one of the better storms I’ve seen in a long while. I’m having a hard time determining whether the fans are too disappointed, though – with the game now delayed, the Cubs-Card game has been put on the JumboTron, much to the delight of these fans.

 

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