BRADENTON, Fla. -- Well aware that there is no starting spot for him available on the Major League club, Steve Pearce is doing everything he can to make himself a more attractive bench option. That includes adding third base to the list of positions that he can play.
Management asked Pearce to get some work at third base -- a position he played in college -- throughout Spring Training. Pearce jumped at the chance with no hesitation.
"I love third base," said Pearce, who has five career appearances at third base -- all in the Minors -- since being drafted in 2005. "I'll play wherever they want me to. I'm just getting reacclimated with the position and slowing things down." Being able to prove that he is serviceable at the position could be key in Pearce's attempt to dent the Opening Day roster. Though Pearce has shown he can play first and right field, the makeup of the club might dictate that the Pirates keep a backup first baseman who can also play across the diamond. That's where Pearce's ability to step in at third becomes crucial.
2010 Spring Training - Pittsburgh Pirates
News & Features
- Bell excited about first Pirates opener in 17 years
- Hurdle keeps an eye on injury to Cubs' Barney
- First number, last word
- Locke heads into season with confidence high
- Pirates set to play Double-A affiliate in Altoona
Sights & Sounds
Spring Training Info
"If I can prove to them that I can play every position good enough to where it won't hurt the team, then that will work in my favor," Pearce said.
It would seem that being a right-handed hitter could work in Pearce's favor, too. Lyle Overbay and Pedro Alvarez, who will be the team's starters at the corner spots, both hit from the left side.
Pearce's competition for the backup role includes Garrett Atkins, Andy Marte and Josh Fields. All three of those non-roster players are also getting work at both first and third.
"When you can stabilize your roster with a guy that is versatile, they are very valuable," manager Clint Hurdle said. "We have a handful of guys that we're looking at in that situation."
Morton to start, Lincoln to follow against Rays
BRADENTON, Fla. -- The competition for the fifth spot in the Pirates' rotation will be front and center on Saturday, when the Pirates open Grapefruit League play with a game against the Rays in Port Charlotte, Fla.
After workouts on Wednesday, manager Clint Hurdle announced that Charlie Morton will make the start for Pittsburgh and be followed immediately by Brad Lincoln. With Scott Olsen (mild left hamstring strain) sidelined, Morton and Lincoln move forward as two strong candidates for the team's final rotation vacancy. Both right-handers will throw two innings in Saturday's game.
The pair is scheduled to be followed by Chris Resop, Daniel Moskos and Daniel McCutchen. Justin Thomas and Cesar Valdez will also be available for the game.
Hurdle has not announced his full pitching assignments for subsequent games, though Kevin Correia will be the starter in the Pirates' spring home opener Sunday at McKechnie Field.
Hurdle closer to his in-laws at Pirates camp
BRADENTON, Fla. -- Of all the people pulling for Clint Hurdle to be offered the managerial job with the Pirates, Dolores and Allen Yearick had a little extra riding on the organization's ultimate decision.
The Yearicks settled in Bradenton, Fla., 24 years ago, a few years before their youngest child, Karla, met a 34-year-old Clint Hurdle when he was managing the Mets' Double-A team in Williamsport, Pa. Hurdle later married Karla, in turn becoming the Yearick's son-in-law.
With the Pirates' Spring Training home being in Bradenton, the Yearicks are now only miles away from Hurdle's work place and enjoying almost two months with their family in town.
"I was really excited for it," said Allen Yearick Sr. "The team really needs help, and he has the stuff to get them help."
This also means getting to see the grandkids -- eight-year-old Madison and six-year-old Christian -- almost daily. And it gives Dolores Yearick, who brags about being the biggest baseball fan in the family, a much shorter trip to go see Hurdle manage.
She made Spring Training trips to Arizona to see Hurdle when he was with the Rockies and Rangers. She attended his World Series games and followed him on road trips. She plans on being at most of the team's home games this spring, and then hopes to be in Pittsburgh for the regular-season home opener, on April 7.
"This is a little more special, because it's in our backyard," said Allen Yearick Jr., Karla Hurdle's older brother and another Bradenton resident. "Who would have known that Clint would end up in this picture?"
The Yearicks spent some time visiting with Hurdle at Pirate City after Wednesday's workout. Dolores Yearick came dressed in a yellow jersey, while her husband donned a white Pirates uniform.
"It's great," Dolores Yearick said. "We can see the grandkids every day."
Lefty Scott Olsen threw on flat ground again and is making progress, said manager Clint Hurdle. The Pirates are expected to give a more substantial update on that progress and plan for Olsen later this week. ... Right-hander Kevin Hart (right shoulder irritation) also threw on Wednesday and reported no discomfort afterward. ... Hurdle posted his lineup for Friday's game against the State College of Florida-Manatee. Corey Wimberly will bat leadoff and will be followed in the order by Chase d'Arnaud, Steve Pearce, John Bowker, Josh Fields, Andy Marte, Andrew Lambo, Gorkys Hernandez and Wyatt Toregas. ... The Pirates are scheduled to have a short workout on Thursday, as many of the players and staff members will be taking part in a charity golf tournament during the afternoon.
Jenifer Langosch is a reporter for MLB.com. Read her blog, By Gosh, It's Langosch, and follow her on Twitter @LangoschMLB. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.