Pirates notebook: Alvarez revisits approach at the plate
Pedro Alvarez always has been a confounding, frustrating player. And Alvarez never has been more perplexing than this spring.
For the first time in his major league career, Alvarez has shown improvement in some areas.
Alvarez entered Saturday's game with a career-best walk rate, walking in 11.2 percent of plate appearances, and a career-low strikeout rate (21.8 percent). Alvarez is striking out in 8 percent fewer plate appearances compared to his career average.
But Alvarez also entered Saturday's game with a .213 batting average and was moved out of the cleanup spot for a second straight game.
Hitting coach Jeff Branson worked on instilling an all-fields approach with Alvarez this spring, and the two met earlier in the week to talk about Alvarez's struggles.
Alvarez has put nearly as many balls in play to left field (38) as his pull-side (45), but the results are lagging.
“He revisited his approach with Branson, about what (Branson) wants him to do at the plate. Branson asked for a specific time to stay with it,” Pirates manager Clint Hurdle said. “We revisited some of the things last year that had success. (Alvarez) thought he was still doing them, we revisited, and maybe he wasn't quite in alignment with some of those things.
“He has the ability to hit the ball out of the park from line to line. We want to see him look for balls up. We want to see him look to bang the ball to the big part of the field. He's on board with that. Sometimes it's reps. Sometimes it's more experience. Sometimes it's the game getting better of you. He's experienced all of that.”
Alvarez has been the victim of bad luck. PNC Park's deep left field has robbed him of some home runs. But Alvarez also is hitting fewer line drives, popping up more and converting fewer of his fly balls into home runs.
“I've had more conversations with this guy than probably any position player that we've had here just about what he's feeling, what he's seeing, how he's going about his work,” Hurdle said. “He's a cerebral kid who cares a lot. We remind him to not overcook things. The No. 1 thing is get a good pitch to hit.”
Ike likes Pittsburgh
Since coming over in a trade from the Mets at the end of the April, Pirates first baseman Ike Davis — again in the cleanup spot Saturday — is batting .293 with a .382 on-base percentage. Davis was batting .208 at the time of the trade.
Hurdle said Davis' confidence level has spiked.
“When we first talked about Ike in the past as a guy to possibly bring in, (we liked) the on-base percentage, the ability to hit the ball line to line,” Hurdle said. “We said, ‘Don't let the park change the kind of hitter you born to be.' In his own way, he's calmed some things down.”
Grilli eased back in
While Jason Grilli recorded a save Friday in his first game off the disabled list, Hurdle said he might not immediately resume the closer's role.
“I'm curious to see how he feels (Sunday),” Hurdle said of Grilli. “It was a very aggressive workload: two sim games, a day off, I want to make sure we monitor his health. He threw some good pitches. I think his command has room for growth to get him back.”
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Hair Cutch: Pirates superstar lops off his locks for charity
- Forbes: Pirates worth $900 million
- Pirates’ Harrison working to use 2014 success as building block
- Reliever Caminero’s chances of making Pirates’ roster heating up
- Pirates notebook: McCutchen says he’s ‘glad’ to be on field
- Pirates notebook: RV is home to pitcher Lincoln for spring training
- Spring training breakdown: Orioles 9, Pirates 2
- Baseball awaits chance to fully delve into Cuba’s talent pool
- Alvarez hopes tweak in mechanics unlocks plate potential
- No. 2 catcher Stewart’s injury could open door for Sanchez
- Spring training breakdown: Pirates 2, Red Sox 2