SEVEN SPRINGS, Pa. -- Frank Coonelly, the Pirates' president, expressed optimism that top prospect Pedro Alvarez will improve his lagging conditioning.
"Pedro has been working hard since coming into the organization, and we have been following up," Coonelly said yesterday. "What he's seen is what it takes to get into really first-class physical condition for a professional athlete. It's not easy."
Alvarez, a third baseman who was the Pirates' first-round draft pick last June, reported to minicamp last week in Bradenton, Fla., overweight and not at his usual strength. That also was the case, though apparently to a greater degree, when he reported to the Florida Instructional League in late September for his first professional action.
Coonelly pointed, as have others in the organization, to what he described as Alvarez's lack of activity during the high-profile three-month contract dispute last summer between the team and Scott Boras, Alvarez's agent. Alvarez ended up with a four-year, major league contract that included a $6 million signing bonus.
"We were disappointed, when we finally got Pedro signed to a contract, in his physical condition at the time," Coonelly said. "It had been represented to us by his representative that he had been working extraordinarily hard while we were negotiating. Pedro came in and was not in good condition."
Alvarez will be part of the major league camp in spring training next month, as per a clause in his contract. Coonelly said that might serve him well.
"He'll have an opportunity to see what these professionals go through in order to be the best that they can be."