Pirates 2012 ... Position Battles

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First base

After Derrek Lee opted for free agency, the Pirates appeared resolved to platoon the position internally. But a December trade brought former Brewer Casey McGehee, and he and Garrett Jones will likely share time at first to start the season. Should either struggle, minor leaguers Matt Hague and Nick Evans could see time.

Third base

The spot is Pedro Alvarez's to lose, but the Pirates need the slugger to start producing. McGehee could challenge Alvarez, should the former first-round pick fail to find his form. And Josh Harrison proved an effective replacement with a surprising 2011 season.

Corner outfield

When healthy, Alex Presley and Jose Tabata teamed with center fielder Andrew McCutchen to compose a strong, speedy outfield. But neither Presley nor Tabata hit for power consistently, and both struggled with injuries. The team signed Nate McLouth in the offseason and has a couple talented prospects -- Gorkys Hernandez and Starling Marte -- close to making their major league debuts.

Bullpen

GM Neal Huntington has shown a propensity to rebuild his bullpen each offseason. But he hasn't tinkered with it much since last fall. Barring injuries, Joel Hanrahan will be the team's closer, and Evan Meek, Jason Grilli, Chris Resop and Daniel McCutchen will likely be on the opening day roster. Chris Leroux, Daniel Moskos, Tony Watson and Jared Hughes will compete for the remaining bullpen spots along with a few non-roster invitees and a handful of minor leaguers.


Michael Sanserino: msanserino@post-gazette.com and Twitter @msanserino.


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