Jenn Menendez's Pirates baseball chat transcript: 3.12.14

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Jenn Menendez: Good morning from sunny Ft. Myers ... thanks for joining me. Let's get started.

JJ: Hello Jenn! Any news for the Pirates and first base???

Jenn Menendez: If by news, you mean, do the Pirates have an answer yet? That's a definitive no. It appears they are being pretty patient this spring. Andrew Lambo is just 2-for-21 with a pair of walks but I caught up with him this morning and he feels like he's hitting the ball hard and the hits are on their way. Gaby Sanchez missed a few games with a sore knee, but has been hitting the ball well in his limited at-bats. Then there's Chris McGuiness who has quietly been hitting the ball pretty well.

JAL: Is it time to start worrying about the 5th spot in the rotation with Locke injured and Volquez looking ineffective so far?

Jenn Menendez: I would not panic yet if I were you. First of all while the Locke news could* turn into something more serious it does not have the sound of a long term issue at this point. They could run out of time to stretch him out if he doesn't get going soon, but they're not at that point yet. As for Volquez, he's had just one start. While it was not a promising one, I'd pump the brakes there too. They are working on so many things with him, and waiting for it to translate from his bullpens to the mound in a game situation. Is that guaranteed? of course not, but I wouldn't pull the plug yet. There are also several guys who are worthy of spot starts - Gomez, Pimentel, Cumpton and Phil Irwin (elbow) if he gets back on track here.

JamesinNYC: Who is winning the platoon battles?

Jenn Menendez: Travis Snider is hitting the ball very well, so at this point I'd have to say he's got the leg-up to start the season in right field. As for first, we just covered that a couple of questions ago.

Tom: Does Polanco look like he is MLB ready? I know he will not make the 25, but does it look like he can live up to his billing and have an impact this summer?

Jenn Menendez: He certainly looks very close. The only time I saw him look young was when he chased a few pitches out of the zone in a start over the weekend. Otherwise he's been hitting the ball well, covers ground in the outfield and has the makings of someone who will live up to his billing.

Alan Gifford: biggest surprise so far for you

Jenn Menendez: Starting pitcher Jay Jackson. Not exactly sure where he stands with the team, but they've slotted him into Locke's spot in the rotation and has had several nice outings of work. I knew nothing about him coming in so he's a surprise simply because he was such an unknown quantity to me.

The Masked robshelb: When might we expect the next round of cuts ??

Jenn Menendez: Not sure about that. The first ones were Monday of course, and I would think the next round has to be sometime before next week when the starting pitchers will start to get stretched out even further. But that's just an educated guess.

JAL: Has anyone who came to camp unlikely to make the team played themselves into real possibility to make the team?

Jenn Menendez: I think of anyone who is not already on the 25-man or a legitimate Pirates prospect as an unlikely player to make the team so with that in mind - several guys would fit that bill.

JJ: What do you think will be the record come playoffs? And do u think they can repeat what the did last season going to the playoffs?

Jenn Menendez: The dreaded record question! Honestly...I generally steer away from these kinds of questions because there are so many unknowns at this point. But with the depth they have in the bullpen, the fact that some guys were down numbers-wise last year, there's certainly a good chance they can compete for the NL wild card again.

JAL: Are the Pirates set with Tony Sanchez taking the starting catcher position next season or will they make a strong effort to extend Martin?

Jenn Menendez: This is a good question. I don't know if they can afford to extend Russell Martin next year. They also like Sanchez, have invested time into him, and have noted several times that his day is coming.

JJ: Do u think Martin will come back next year? And Clint Hurdle, his contract is up after this season too! Any talks about Clint?

Jenn Menendez: I'd say it's too early to say if there will be mutual interest in bringing back Russell Martin. If his stock continues to rise - and it was pretty high already - I really think the Pirates could be priced out on him regardless how much they'd want him. No word on a Hurdle contract extension yet.

JJ: Who has the best chance of being the OD right fielder?

Jenn Menendez: It's pretty clear at this point that Gregory Polanco will be in right field in the not too distant future - and as I said earlier I'd put my money on Travis Snider to start the season there. Though the club has certainly not tipped their cap in anyone's direction yet. Battle is still on.

The Masked robshelb: Let's assume Chris Dickerson winds up either as the 25th man on the ML roster, or in Indianapolis. In either case, he has to be added to the 40-man roster. So who comes off ??

Jenn Menendez: I don't know. Too many variables right now. But they do like his speed - he's batting .389 and with four walks he gets on base.

JAL: Astros released Brett Wallace, 27 and played 1st and 3rd hit .221 with 13 HR last season. Do you think Pirates will be interested in him?

Jenn Menendez: Not sure. Looks like he wasn't hitting great this spring, so doesn't jump off the page.

Jenn Menendez: Well thanks, as always for joining me. We'll chat again next week.

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