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Pirates notebook: Utilityman Frazier taking the lead

| Saturday, March 11, 2017, 11:48 a.m.
Christopher Horner | Tribune-Review
Pirates second baseman Adam Frazier drives in two runs with a base hit during a game against the Orioles Saturday, March 11, 2017, at Ed Smith Stadium in Sarasota, Fla.
Christopher Horner | Tribune-Review
Pirates pitcher Jared Hughes sits in the dugout after giving up a home run against the Orioles Saturday, March 11, 2017, at Ed SMith Stadium in Sarasota, Fla.
Christopher Horner | Tribune-Review
Pirates pitcher Jared Hughes delivers during a game against the Orioles Saturday, March 11, 2017, at Ed Smith Stadium in Sarasota, Fla.

SARASOTA, Fla. — Fifteen of the 26 times he was in the Pirates lineup last season, Adam Frazier hit leadoff.

That has continued this spring.

Frazier has been at the top of manager Clint Hurdle's batting order seven times among the team's first 15 Grapefruit League games.

“I like the fit there, and we're trying to get him at-bats,” Hurdle said. “He probably profiles there. If you want to dig a little bit, he's a usable guy up there in the absence of (Josh) Harrison now (at the World Baseball Classic) for a while, as well. We probably would have given Harrison a couple of opportunities. The one thing you kind of know going in, is he actually going to be one of the starting eight? How realistic is that? We're going to have to look for someone else along the lines, but I think he's someone who can definitely hold down that position when he's in the lineup and do a good job with it.”

Frazier, who has started at five positions this spring, went 1 for 3 with three RBIs in Saturday's loss to the Baltimore Orioles. For the spring, he is hitting .381 (8 for 21) with a home run and a walk.

Frazier's most likely role to begin the season is as a utility player.

Anywhere but Sarasota

While pitching at any other venue this spring, Jared Hughes strung together three consecutive scoreless outings. But Saturday for the second time in two weeks, Ed Smith Stadium and the Orioles got to Hughes.

After being torched for five runs on three hits and two walks in one-third of an inning in his spring debut Feb. 26 in Sarasota, Hughes was charged with three runs on three hits (including a long Anthony Santander home run) Saturday.

No matter, Hughes' roster spot is secure since he has a long track record.

Well, not THAT long, the 31-year-old, seven-year veteran insisted.

“I still feel young,” Hughes said with a smile this earlier this week. “I still feel like I'm kind of young. We just have a super-young team.

“That said, it's neat (being a veteran), and I want to embrace the opportunity to lead when I have the chance. But overall I am still learning from my teammates, learning from the rest of the guys in the bullpen. I don't care how many seasons you've been in the major leagues, you should always continue to learn. It's when you stop learning and stop growing, that's when you get in big trouble. There's no time to be comfortable here. Each spring training, you need to keep getting better and earn a spot.”

Report good on Nova

Hurdle said the report he got from pitching coach Ray Searage on Ivan Nova's outing at a minor league game at Pirate City were positive.

“Breaking ball came into play later in the game, but he had a very good changeup and two-seamer (Saturday),” Hurdle said, relaying Searage's observations of a four-inning, 62-pitch start.

Chris Adamski is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at cadamski@tribweb.com or via Twitter @C_AdamskiTrib.

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