3/6/2014 2:15 P.M. ET
Decker impresses Hurdle with 'backyard' style
By Tom Singer / MLB.com
BRADENTON, Fla. -- There is a pretty good chance that if you fed Jaff Decker into a sabermetrics machine (if such a tool existed), it would sputter, fire off sparks, then just conk out in a puff of smoke.
The 24-year-old high-energy outfielder appears to be the prototypical player who defies baseball molds and would flunk on most metrics tests.
"One hundred percent correct," Decker said with a grin. "I pretty much resemble my game: being able to do everything. A five-tool player is how I grew up, and I try to do everything I can ... run, steal, make plays on defense. And of course, hit."
At 5-foot-10, 190 pounds, Decker won't impress scouts standing still. But unleashed on the field, he could qualify to be pictured in the dictionary next to "gamer."
Pirates manager Clint Hurdle calls Decker "a backyard player." It's close to what might be most appropriate: sandlot player.
All you need to know about Decker's attitude and character is that his favorite baseball player is Benny Rodriguez. Don't bother looking for him in the Baseball Encyclopedia. He was a character in the original "The Sandlot" movie.
"He's my favorite, because he was able to do it all," Decker said. "You gotta go out and play the game the right way. Doing things right shows that you're a ballplayer, and that's what I try to be, a complete ballplayer.
"I love this game. Every day I come here, I'm happy to be here," added Decker, standing in the middle of the Bucs' McKechnie Field clubhouse. "In fact, the best part of my day is just getting here."
You need a cardiogram, not a flow chart, to measure that.
Weather bars Barmes from hot corner on birthday
BRADENTON, Fla. -- Because the Florida skies opened up, Clint Barmes was unable to open his birthday "gift."
Barmes turned 35 on Thursday and, coincidentally or not, was given what would have been his first start at third base since Aug. 7, 2008.
The erstwhile shortstop was in the starting lineup at the hot corner for the game against Toronto that was washed away by torrential rains.
Whoever made out the Bucs' lineup sheet -- it's usually bench coach Jeff Banister's duty -- reflexively listed Barmes' position as "6," then had to trace a "5" over it.
"I feel like I just turned 25," said Barmes, grinning and running a hand over the bald head that once was covered with hair.
Barmes shares birthdays with Hall of Famer Willie Stargell, the late Pirates great who was born on the date in 1940.
First number, last word
.750: Right-handed-hitting Gaby Sanchez's early spring average (3-for-4) against right-handers -- compared to .000 (0-for-2) against lefties.
"After I throw my best stuff on Sept. 25, you'll be able to say it was because I didn't have to use any bullets on March 6." -- Jason Grilli, on having his first scheduled Grapefruit League appearance, Thursday against Toronto, rained out.
• The Pirates have come to terms with the 24 pre-arbitration players on their 40-man Major League rosters. Those entering the fold include:
Pitchers Gerrit Cole, Brandon Cumpton, Jeanmar Gomez, Jared Hughes, Phil Irwin, Jeff Locke, Bryan Morris, Andy Oliver, Stolmy Pimentel, Joely Rodriguez, Casey Sadler, Tony Watson, Duke Welker and Justin Wilson; catcher Tony Sanchez; infielders Chase d'Arnaud, Alen Hanson, Josh Harrison, Andrew Lambo, Chris McGuiness, Jordy Mercer and Brent Morel; and outfielders Decker, Starling Marte and Gregory Polanco.
• Those thin strips often seen attached to the torsos of aching Pirates players are known as Kinesio Tape -- elastic cotton therapeutic strips with an acrylic adhesive that hasten healing from strained muscles and such by stimulating increased blood flow.
Tom Singer is a reporter for MLB.com and writes an MLBlog Change for a Nickel. He can also be found on Twitter @Tom_Singer. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.