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Pirates notebook: Watson graduates to senior status

| Thursday, March 16, 2017, 7:10 p.m.

Tony Watson made his Pirates debut in June 2011 — Clint Hurdle's first season as manager — and center fielder Andrew McCutchen and second baseman Josh Harrison are the only teammates remaining from that team.

It's possible, depending on the opening day roster, that Watson will be the third-oldest Pirate this season behind infielders David Freese and John Jaso.

“It is interesting,” Watson said. “You look around the room, and you remember back in your first big league camp. And (shortstop Jordy Mercer) and I were just talking the other day. He wasn't in Clint's first camp in '11. Andrew was in here, J-Hay in here and myself, and that's it.

“You look around the room now, and the turnover is pretty incredible. But we are still here and still kicking.”

Hurdle on Bell

The Pirates' youngest projected everyday player has a big fan in his manager.

A year ago, Josh Bell was a wide-eyed 23-year-old in his first major league spring training. Now Bell has 45 games of experience in the majors and is projected as the team's top first baseman after hitting .273 with a .368 on-base percentage and three home runs in 152 plate appearances last season.

“All you need to know about Josh, talk to his parents,” Hurdle said. “His parents are educators. His parents raised this young man not just to be an athlete. This is your typical scholar-athlete growing up in a house.

“And he also has a thirst for knowledge, and he asks questions. He has curiosity. He wants to know how things work, why they work.

“I appreciate the wisdom. I appreciate the fact that he's always trying to learn, not just professionally but personally. He's a very engaging young man to talk to.”

Avoiding fatigue

With only two scheduled off-days over six weeks, spring training can become a grind.

Perpetually attempting to be on the cutting edge of keeping its players fresh, the Pirates have adjusted some of their practices this spring. Being aware of player fatigue is more of an issue this season because of the length of camp and because of the smaller numbers as a result of the World Baseball Classic taking away some Pirates players.

“The entire staff has been really mindful of that, and they were mindful of that back in December, November maybe even January when they were mapping out spring training,” head trainer Todd Tomczyk said. “Extra work, extra usage and the recovery aspect of spring training, they have been great at working with these players. And listening to the feedback from the players first and foremost and the performance as well.”

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

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