Notes: Mientkiewicz shows versatility
Veteran plays multiple positions in effort to earn roster spot
FORT MYERS, Fla. -- So far, in just six games this spring, Doug Mientkiewicz has played first base, third base, and right field for the Pirates. Since making his debut with the Twins in 1998, he has played 924 Major League games - all but nine of them at first base.
After the Twins sent him to Boston in a four-team deal at the trading deadline in 2004, Mientkiewicz has spent time with the Mets, Royals, and Yankees. If the non-roster invitee makes the team, it will be his sixth organization in an 11-year career, and he'll have earned a spot because of his defense and his ability to play multiple positions.
A career .271 hitter with 64 home runs and 372 RBIs, Mientkiewicz has a career .996 fielding percentage.
Mientkiewicz, who appeared in 72 games with the Yankees last season, admitted he was disappointed the Yankees did not re-sign him.
"You just pick yourself up and keep going," he said. "I know when I left Boston and went to the Mets, it really affected me for a year. I was really crushed. But I learned that it's a job and a business, and you just pick up and move on.
"That being said, I'm in a place now where I have the ability to move around now, play third, play right, play left, play first, and to play for a guy [Bucs skipper John Russell, his former manager in the Twins' farm system] that helped get to where I'm at."
Mientkiewicz was part of the 2004 Red Sox World Series team and became embroiled in a war of words with the team when he kept the final-out ball from the clinching game. Playing first base, Mientkiewicz took a toss from pitcher Keith Foulke to give the Sox their first championship in 86 years.
After the Sox won the 2007 Series, closer Jonathan Papelbon kept the final-out ball, then said his dog ate it, eventually challenging anyone to believe it or not.
"Try using that one with the ball from the first World Series that broke an 86-year curse," Mientkiewicz told the Boston Globe. "If I had used that, that dog would have been strung up on a tree somewhere."
Casey at home: Sean Casey spent much of the pregame visiting with former Pirates teammates and checking up on the status of the Pittsburgh Penguins. While Pittsburgh will always be home for Casey, he's relishing his role with the Red Sox.
"I think at this stage in my career, being it's my 11th season, and being on a team like this, to have an opportunity to maybe get a ring and get back to the playoffs and just be a part of what the Red Sox have been doing the past few years," said Casey, who will be a bench player for the Sox this season. "I feel pretty fortunate about that. Going to Detroit [in 2006] opened my eyes a lot. The way they went about their business, the way [Tigers manager Jim] Leyland did things, and the winning atmosphere they brought about, and winning and going to the World Series, it just brought a different taste to your mouth. For me, at this stage in my career to be in a situation to have a chance to win every night and play on a great team, I think that was the kicker for me."
"I'll always take an interest in the Pirates," he said. "I always will. But, hopefully, with [general manager] Neal Huntington and those guys, hopefully, they'll go in the right direction."
Russell on Big Papi: Russell and Red Sox designated hitter David Ortiz have both come a long way since 1997, when Russell managed Ortiz with the Class A Fort Myers Miracle in the Twins organization. Ortiz jumped through four levels that season, eventually getting called up by the Twins.
"I just new he could hit," Russell said. "The thing that strikes you about David is he loves to play the game. He always has. He's always been a bright guy, and to have him own your team and then the tremendous bat -- he was always a lot of fun.
"He had that kind of power and that kind of bat. The way he loved to play, I could always envision him being able to do great things. I'm real happy for him."
And what have been the biggest differences for Russell as a first-year manager in the big leagues?
"There's a lot more responsibility," he said. "Not that it's harder, and I enjoy it, but there's a lot more things you have to accomplish. I have six coaches, not just one. You've got the daily preparation. I can't go home until I'm prepared for the next day. There's a lot of things, with so many players and making sure we get everything accomplished that we want. Just a lot of long days, but it's fun, I think that's the biggest difference: There's a lot more things you have to take care of.
"[The coaches] got to do their job and I can delegate different things to do, but ultimately [I] want to make sure I know what's going on. I'll let them do their jobs, but I like to know what they're going to do, and things like that -- the structure to how we're going to accomplish things."
BK for BP: Byung-Hyun Kim threw batting practice at McKechnie Field on Tuesday, tossing between 25 and 30 pitches in the outing.
Up next: The Pirates host the Tigers on Wednesday at 1:05 p.m. ET at McKechnie Field. Ian Snell is expected to start for the Pirates in his second Grapefruit League outing, and will be opposed by Detroit right-hander Yorman Bazardo. Sean Burnett, Marino Salas, Hector Carrasco, Josh Sharpless, Masumi Kuwata, and Matt Capps are scheduled to follow Snell to the mound.
Maureen Mullen is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.