Pirates notebook: Healthy Snider seeks to transfer Triple-A numbers to majors
FORT MYERS, Fla. — The Pirates' competition for right field remains wide open, but if a healthy Travis Snider can find a way to translate his minor league track record to the majors, that could end the debate.
Pirates manager Clint Hurdle noted that this spring marks the best health Snider has enjoyed with the club. The left-handed hitter was plagued by a toe injury that required offseason surgery and affected his balance and weight transfer last season, when his on-base percentage was .281 in 111 games.
“Young players, when they're in that transition stage, almost to a fault, if they miss time they want to catch up,” Hurdle said. “You get outside yourself.”
On Wednesday against the Minnesota Twins, Snider hit in the No. 3 hole. He went 0 for 3, dropping his average to .286. Jose Tabata, another candidate for the job, is hitting .158 in 19 at-bats. Snider said last week he was not making too much of his solid start but noted he is able to do things he was not able to last season because of his balky toe.
“(Snider) had some big hits for us last year,” Hurdle said. “He's another guy that has done so many things at Triple-A, but we have to get it to translate at the major league level.”
In 190 games at Triple-A, Snider owns a .412 on-base percentage and .556 slugging mark.
Hurdle said the club does not feel it has to platoon in right field.
“We've been open-minded since the start of the spring,” Hurdle said. “If someone would jump out there and run with it a little bit, we'd obviously look toward that. It's not set up where we feel we have to platoon. (Tabata) has played well against right-handers. Snider has shown the ability to hit left-handers.
“To date, we've been best served with a platoon. We have that option in our back pocket.”
Did the Pirates consider converting Snider to first base this offseason with Gregory Polanco in the pipeline and Gaby Sanchez in need of a platoon partner?
“That had not been talked about,” Hurdle said. “Switching a position isn't going to matter. We have to get the bat right.”
He said it
Hurdle praised Pedro Alvarez's spring thus far. “I'm usually deflecting questions for the first three weeks (while) he's headed down to minor league camp to try and get 12, 14 at-bats a day to pick things up,” Hurdle said.
From the backfields
Several Pirates relievers did not make the trip to Fort Myers on Wednesday, staying behind to work in minor league games against the Phillies.
Pirates closer Jason Grilli allowed two hits, including a home run, and two runs in an inning against the Triple-A Phillies.
Stolmy Pimentel allowed one run and four hits in three innings in a Double-A game. Tony Watson allowed one hit and struck out one in two scoreless innings against the Double-A Phillies.
Around the horn
Hurdle had no postgame update on Jeff Locke (oblique). ... Andrew Lambo went 0 for 2 with a walk Wednesday and is batting .087 this spring. ... Cal Ripken Jr. will be at Thursday's game between the Tampa Bay Rays and Pirates as he promotes his new book, “Squeeze Play.”
Travis Sawchik is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach him at email@example.com or via Twitter @Sawchik_Trib.
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