Pablo Reyes sets sights on super-utility role for Pirates
BRADENTON, Fla. – Pablo Reyes reveled in his role as a September sensation. Now, he wants to prove to the Pittsburgh Pirates than he’s more than a one-month wonder.
Pirates manager Clint Hurdle will be the first to say that, sometimes, Septembers are hard to read when a team is out of playoff contention but every major-league game is meaningful to a minor-leaguer.
Regardless, Reyes made a positive first impression by slashing .293/.349/.483 with three home runs and seven RBI in 18 games last fall, and by playing surprisingly strong defense in right field. The 5-foot-8, 175-pounder made a big play in right against the Chicago Cubs, catching a shallow fly by Brian Goodwin and throwing out Ryan O’Hearn at home plate. In the season-ending win over the Cincinnati Reds, Reyes doubled in the 10th inning, advanced on an error and scored the game-winning run on a wild pitch.
“It beats the heck out of a negative one – I mean, it does,” Hurdle said Tuesday at Pirate City. “For him to put up the quality at-bats that he did, do the defensive work that he did, it was a good show. You only get one chance to make a first impression, and he made a very favorable one.”
Reyes wants a recurring role, and has his eye on making the 25-man roster out of spring training.
“I prepared myself to make the club this year,” said Reyes, 25, of the Dominican Republic. “I think I can be on the roster for Opening Day. I think I make it, so I’m going to work hard. If they give me a chance, I’m going to take it and try to make the team because I know I can do it. … I work hard every day. That’s the only thing I can control.”
Reyes’ best bet at making the club is as a super-utility player. He played multiple positions at Triple-A Indianapolis last season, starting 37 games in center, 25 at third base, 15 in left and nine each at second and short.
Where Reyes claims to be most comfortable at second base, Hurdle wants to see how he handles playing shortstop this spring. That could be the clincher to decide if Reyes can handle a super-utility role, whether or not he can be a backup shortstop. The Pirates already have two third basemen in Colin Moran and Jung Ho Kang and a pair of right fielders behind Gregory Polanco in Lonnie Chisenhall and Melky Cabrera.
“If I can play every position, I’ll have a lot of opportunities,” Reyes said. “If I can prepare myself in the offseason, down in the Dominican, I do whatever I can do to be a super-utility so I can have this opportunity.”
Kevin Gorman is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Kevin by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or via Twitter .