Spring preview: Predicting opening day lineup

Players fill out card for April 6, with a few tough choices

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Ten players -- Nate McLouth, Ryan Doumit, Freddy Sanchez, Jack Wilson, Paul Maholm, Zach Duke, John Grabow, Sean Burnett, Tom Gorzelanny and Jeff Karstens -- were surveyed with this question: If you were filling out the Pirates' lineup card for opening day April 6 in St. Louis, what would it look like?

And here was the cumulative answer ...

Nyjer Morgan, LF...........(6 votes)
Freddy Sanchez, 2B..............(9)
Nate McLouth, CF.................(6)
Ryan Doumit, C.....................(6)
Adam LaRoche, 1B................(6)
Brandon Moss, RF.................(8)
Andy LaRoche, 3B.................(7)
Jack Wilson, SS......................(8)
Paul Maholm, P.....................(10)

The only unanimous choice was the easiest, with Maholm starting on the mound.

The rest underscored the many uncertainties facing manager John Russell:

• McLouth and Nyjer Morgan mostly split the vote at leadoff. Two players chose newcomer Craig Monroe rather than Morgan for left field. Another chose top prospect Andrew McCutchen.

• The most votes for a position player went to Sanchez at second, but even he allowed to second thoughts: "I wouldn't mind hitting third. I've bulked up a little."

• Grabow had the best idea for hitting third: "Manny Ramirez." Reality grasping him, he changed it to Doumit.

• Toughest deliberations came as the result of the plethora of lefties in the heart of the order. "You have to split them up somehow, but it's not easy," Doumit said.

The ultimate call, of course, goes to Russell. The only hand he will tip is that he prefers McLouth atop the order.

Otherwise ...

"I'll sit down that morning with Gary Varsho and Don Long in St. Louis, and we'll hammer it out."


Dejan Kovacevic can be reached at dkovacevic@post-gazette.com .


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