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Pirates notebook: Harrison says McCutchen remains Pirates leader

| Thursday, Feb. 16, 2017, 9:00 a.m.

BRADENTON, Fla. — Andrew McCutchen no longer is the Pirates' center fielder, but that won't affect his status as one of the team's leaders, according to teammate Josh Harrison.

McCutchen, who is signed through 2017, was the subject of trade speculation last winter. He stayed put but will be bumped from center to right field by Starling Marte.

“I don't think the dynamic changes,” Harrison said Thursday. “Positions change, but as far as guys' roles and what we bring to the table, everything is still the same. We've got a good core group of guys. It's not a matter of it's this person's team or that person's team. We feed off each other. That's what makes us so good as a group.”

Thursday was the reporting deadline for position players. McCutchen checked in on time, but he rescheduled his physical for Friday and did not make an appearance in the clubhouse.

Harrison's name also came up in trade talks this past offseason. He said he was aware of reports that he could be dealt, but he refused to obsess about it.

“Obviously, I saw stuff, but at the end of the day, I've got no control over it,” Harrison said. “My offseason is called ‘Brittney season.' That's what my wife calls it. I just go about my business because it's Brittney season. I wasn't focused on it.”

Now that it's baseball season again, Harrison won't be distracted by trade talk.

“It's not anything I worry about,” he said. “My job is to come ready to play and be with these guys and not worry about what I can't control.”

Hanson will rove

Manager Clint Hurdle said second baseman Alen Hanson will get some time at third base and shortstop this spring. Hanson, who is out of minor league options, could turn into another super-utility player a la Sean Rodriguez.

“That doesn't catch me by surprise,” Hanson said through interpreter Mike Gonzalez. “It's something I look forward to. My goal is to become the best utilityman I can be.”

Watson loses his case

Relief pitcher Tony Watson lost his arbitration case and will make $5.6 million this year.

That still is a 62 percent raise for Watson, who last year made $3.45 million. The left-hander inherited the closer's role in late July when Mark Melancon was traded.

“It's a good process to go through and something that I'll never do again,” said Watson, who will be a free agent after this season. “To go through it and fight for myself was worth it.”

Watson was the only Pirate to go to a hearing this year.

Watson, 31, last season converted 15 of 20 save chances and posted a 3.06 ERA over 70 outings.

Arbitration often is a bruising process for both sides. The outcomes can be unpredictable.

In 2011, pitcher Ross Ohlendorf won his hearing despite going 1-11 the previous season. In 1991, the Pirates beat defending National League MVP Barry Bonds, who was awarded $2.3 million instead of the $3.25 million he sought.

“It's a couple of hours sitting across the table from (management), then a handshake,” Watson said. “We all have a common goal now, which is trying to win this thing.”

Bell back in the swing

Josh Bell picked up a bat and smiled.

“Time for me to go make that noise,” Bell said.

That noise was the sound of Bell making contact with baseballs in the indoor batting cages. He was cleared to begin hitting from a tee, another step forward in his recovery from offseason knee surgery.

Gang's all here

All of the position players checked in before Thursday's deadline. The entire 64-man camp roster is accounted for, although Jung Ho Kang's report date remains to be determined.

Rob Biertempfel is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at rbiertempfel@tribweb.com or via Twitter @BiertempfelTrib.

Christopher Horner | Tribune-Review
Pirates closer Tony Watson pitches in the bullpen during the first workout of spring training Tuesday, Feb. 14, 2017, at Pirate City in Bradenton, Fla.
Christopher Horner | Tribune-Review
Pirates catcher Jacob Stallings (right) stretches with pitchers Gerrit Cole and Trevor Williams before a workout at Pirate City in Bradenton, Fla.
Christopher Horner | Tribune-Review
Pirates closer Tony Watson works out Thursday, Feb. 16, 2017, at Pirate City in Bradenton, Fla.
Christopher Horner | Tribune-Review
Pirates manager Clint Hurdle watches practice Thursday, Feb. 16, 2017, at Pirate City in Bradenton, Fla.
Christopher Horner | Tribune-Review
Pirates pitchers work on pick-off moves under a blue sky Thursday, Feb. 16, 2017, at Pirate City in Bradenton, Fla.
Christopher Horner | Tribune-Review
Pirates center fielder Starling Marte walks past Field 1 after arriving at Pirate City Thursday, Feb. 16, 2017, in Bradenton, Fla.
Christopher Horner | Tribune-Review
Pirates left fielder Gregory Polanco stands in the battting cages after arriving at Pirate City Thursday, Feb. 16, 2017, in Bradenton, Fla.
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