Results tagged ‘ Aaron Thompson ’

Pirates cut 10 from camp

Jenifer Langosch/MLB.com

The Pirates trimmed down the number of players in Major League camp from 54 to 44 this morning. Here are the cuts:

  • Andrew Lambo reassigned to Minor League camp
  • Brian Friday reassigned to Minor League camp
  • Chase d’Arnaud reassigned to Minor League camp
  • Aaron Thompson optioned to Double-A Altoona
  • Ramon Aguero optioned to Double-A Altoona
  • Jeff Locke optioned to Double-A Altoona
  • Tony Watson optioned to Triple-A Indianapolis
  • Gorkys Hernandez optioned to Triple-A Indianapolis
  • Alex Presley optioned to Triple-A Indianapolis
  • Daniel Moskos optioned to Triple-A Indianapolis

Now for some specific notes on these players and their assignments:

  • Plan on Lambo being used as a corner outfielder in Indianapolis. It sounds like first base is going to be a fallback option for him. He really made an impression defensively this spring. Heck of an arm.
  • Friday should spend most of his time at second, with d’Arnaud getting the majority of the starts at short. The Pirates value versatility, though, so expect the two to flip flop places from time to time to stay sharp at multiple positions. d’Arnaud, general manager Neal Huntington said, might also play a little at third.
  • Both Presley and Hernandez have played extensively in center field, though now both are headed to Indianapolis. Huntington said Hernandez is likely to be the team’s primary centerfielder, while Presley will bounce around.
  • Though Thompson and Locke were both optioned to Double-A, either one could actually start the year in Triple-A. It all depends on how the pitching shakes out by the end of camp.
  • The organization has not determined whether Watson will be starting or relieving this season.
  • Watson and Moskos were named as two lefty candidates for the Pirates’ bullpen, though the Pirates ultimately determined both could use more seasoning in the Minors before making the jump to Pittsburgh.

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Day 9: Daily Squeeze

Jenifer Langosch/MLB.com

Atkins, Garrett.jpgI’ll admit that watching fielding drills day after day can get a bit monotonous after a while. But there can be times when something catches your eye — which was the case in the relay/cutoff throw drill that third base coach Nick Leyva ran yesterday. There was something different in the instructions than I remember there being last year.

The detail is small, but, after talking with Leyva about it today, he believes it could also be significant. In a situation where a runner is on second and a ball is hit up the middle, Leyva is instructing the first baseman (Lyle Overbay, in most cases) to come to the middle of the infield and be the cutoff man. Last year, that was the third baseman’s duty.

Leyva said that his reasoning for making the change is simple — and he added that 90-95 percent of clubs already position their players this way for cutoffs. By keeping the third baseman on the bag, that forces the baserunner to be more honest. He can’t sneak down the line as far as he might if it was just the shortstop running over to cover. Those few extra feet can make a big impact.

Just something for you to keep an eye on once games begin…

  • Third baseman Pedro Alvarez, who missed Monday’s workouts with a muscle spasm in his neck, was back to work early Tuesday morning. He went out to take some swings in the batting cage and then joined his teammates for defensive drills. He appeared to be just fine, though he did not go through a full day’s workout.
  • A total of 13 pitchers threw live batting practice to hitters. Kevin Correia, James McDonald, Paul Maholm and Ross Ohlendorf all took mounds simultaneously to kick things off. Don’t think that grouping was on accident, either. Hurdle had praise for the four members of the Pirates’ rotation afterward, too.
  • One person that was missing from the pack today was right-hander Jose Ascanio. GM Neal Huntington confirmed that Ascanio felt some tightness in his right elbow on Monday and is, as a precautionary measure, taking it easy for a few days. Ascanio had thrown his first bullpen session on Sunday. The good news is that the Pirates don’t believe the discomfort is anything more serious than a day-to-day issue, and Ascanio was already ahead enough in his workload (he pitched in winter ball through December) that this won’t set him back at all. 
  • The position players’ first drill of the day was working on hit and runs, delayed steals and reading balls in the dirt. The emphasis on the hit-and-run play was for a player to keep his lead consistent so as not to give away that he’s running. The coaching staff is pushing players to try to move first to third on a single this year, in what is being defined as “disciplined aggression.” For the most part, if the ball touches grass on the way through the infield, the expectation is that a player advances to third. The coaches also talked about the importance of knowing where the outfielders are in order to get the best read on the ball.
  • “Shin guards tell the story,” Hurdle said, as he walked over while the Pirates position players were deciding whether to advance on balls in the dirt. “This is a game changer right here and anyone can do it.” You better believe Hurdle is going to expect his players to.
  • Catchers spent some time practicing blocking balls in the dirt, as their priority was on the other side of the play.
  • Pitchers and position players worked together through signs to know who covers on a stolen base attempt. Then the groups split up for some individual work. The infielders took grounders, with Neil Walker working specifically on taking a double play feed from the shortstop. Outfielders tracked fly balls. Pitchers practiced covering first base on a grounder to the right side.
  • Garrett Atkins was taking his infield work at first base after working at third on Monday. Corey Wimberly, who is getting work in the outfield and infield, spent time at both second and short. Moving these utility players around will continue to be a key component of workouts: “They don’t seem like a high priority position, but when you can stabilize your roster with a guy that is versatile, they are very valuable,” Hurdle said. “We have a handful of guys that we’re looking at in that situation.”
  • Hurdle announced after practice that he will be using seven pitchers for one inning apiece in Friday’s exhibition game against the State College of Florida, Manatee-Sarasota. Aaron Thompson will make the start and be followed by Tyler Yates, Jeff Locke, Michael Crotta, Justin Wilson, Kyle McPherson and Rudy Owens.
  • Hurdle said he will announce the beginning of his Grapefruit League pitching assignments on Wednesday.
  • Yates is not throwing live batting practice with the rest of the group, though he has not had any sort of setback. Pitching coach Ray Searage thought Yates would instead be better served having a supervised side session on Wednesday where the focus could be on the right-hander’s mechanics. Yates was actually so far ahead in his throwing program that he had thrown batting practice before the start of Spring Training.
  • On the field as guests today were members of the Manatee adult baseball league. They fielded balls in the outfield during batting practice. Tomorrow, the Manatee High School baseball team will be at Pirate City to do that.

Follow me on Twitter: @LangoschMLB

Pirates claim Thompson, sign Atkins

Jenifer Langosch/MLB.com

The Pirates have signed infielder Garrett Atkins to a Minor League deal with an invitation to Spring Training. Also on Thursday, Pittsburgh claimed lefty Aaron Thompson off waivers from the Nationals. Left-hander Wil Ledezma was designated for assignment in order to clear a spot on the roster for Thompson.

The Pirates have 10 days to trade, release or outright Ledezma to the Minors, if he clears waivers. The club had already signed Ledezma to a 2011 contract in order to avoid arbitration with the left-hander. He was expected to compete for a spot in the team’s bullpen this spring.

Thompson spent almost all of the 2010 season in Double-A, where he went 4-13 with a 5.80 ERA in 26 starts. The 23-year-old struck out 95 and walked 53 in 136 2/3 innings. He also made one start in Triple-A.

By agreeing to terms on a Minor League contract, Atkins is reunited with his former Colorado manager, Clint Hurdle. Atkins played for the Rockies from 2003-09, before signing as a free agent with the Orioles last December.

Atkins appeared in 44 games for Baltimore before getting released in July. He batted .214 with seven doubles, one homer and nine RBIs in 140 at-bats. In his seven seasons with the Rockies, Atkins hit .289 with a .354 on-base percentage. He hit 98 homers and 162 doubles in those 773 games.

Of the 781 games Atkins, 31, has played in his career, 642 of them have come as a third baseman. He has played 135 games at first, three in the outfield and one at second. The right-handed hitter will be competing to earn a spot on the Pirates’ roster as a back-up corner infielder.

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