Position Battles to Watch
The Pirates will have competition at a few positions this spring.
It’s likely the team will look to have a platoon at first base, but it remains to be seen which players will fill that void. A combination of Michael Morse and newly-acquired Jaso could be used in this role, but it’s also very possible that Sean Rodriguez sees some time at the position as well.
The trade of Neil Walker left a hole at second base, but the Pirates organization is confident that Josh Harrison can slide into a permanent role and be a very productive second baseman for them. Harrison, who is known as a very versatile player, could benefit from getting most of his playing time at one set position.
After a gruesome injury ended his rookie season in 2015, Jung-Ho Kang is likely to transition to third base full-time for 2016. It remains to be seen whether or not Kang will be ready for Opening Day, but his recovery will be important to keep an eye on this spring.
In the event Kang is not ready for Opening Day, the Pirates could fill the void in a few ways. They could delay Harrison’s move to second base, having him play third base while using a temporary replacement at second base, or they can use Sean Rodriguez at third base while allowing Harrison to make his position change right away.
Either way, Kang is an important piece for the Pirates this season, as the club hopes to have him back and healthy as soon as possible.
The biggest position battle this spring might be in the starting rotation. The Pirates have their top two starters in Gerrit Cole and Francisco Liriano set, but there are four guys competing for the final three spots.
Niese is likely to have a spot in the rotation, which leaves Vogelsong, Jeff Locke and Tyler Glasnow battling for the final two spots. It will be interesting to monitor this spring, as all three pitchers look to show that they deserve the roster spot.