Winter ball helped Pirates prospect Jose Osuna to strong start
March 9, 2017 12:00 AM
Pirates manager Clint Hurdle greets Dominican Republic's Jose Bautista next to Gregory Polanco Wednesday at LECOM Park in Bradenton, Fla. The Pirates lost an exhibition game to the World Baseball Congress squad, 10-6.
By Bill Brink / Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
BRADENTON, Fla. — Jose Osuna isn’t coming in cold. He got 222 at-bats in winter ball. So maybe it shouldn’t come as a surprise that he is having such a good spring.
Through eight spring training games, Osuna is 8 for 17 (.471) with three home runs.
“I think that helped me a lot, playing over there” in winter ball,” Osuna said. “I had to play a couple days, take a day off. That’s good when I get here, so I’m ready.”
In 60 games for Bravos de Margarita in the Venezuelan Winter League, Osuna, 24, hit .279 with a .361 on-base percentage.
“Most of the time, [I played] in the outfield,” Osuna said. “I played a couple games at first base.”
The Pirates added Osuna to the 40-man roster in November to keep him from reaching minor league free agency. He began the 2016 season with Class AA Altoona, earning a promotion to Class AAA at the end of June. After reaching Indianapolis, he hit .291 with seven homers and a .333 on-base percentage in 63 games.
“He’s shown strength in the batter’s box,” in spring training, manager Clint Hurdle said. “He’s shown versatility on the defensive side. He’s been a cerebral player, he’s been a solid baserunner. Defensively, he’s got actions that work.”
Osuna said he feels most comfortable at first base — where he made a diving stop on a hard hit this spring — and in left field. He said he still needs to work on right field.
“I have to work hard,” Osuna said. “If I start in triple-A I have to work hard to move forward to the big leagues.”
Tommy John progress
Two pitchers who had Tommy John surgery not too far apart are nearing the end of their recovery.
Right-hander Angel Sanchez pitched in his first spring training game Wednesday. He did not allow a run, but walked two batters and allowed a hit in two-thirds of an inning.
“Another one of our guys that’s worked so hard to get back in a position to compete,” Hurdle said.
Casey Sadler will pitch in a spring training game in the coming days, head athletic trainer Todd Tomczyk said.
Both had Tommy John surgery in the fall of 2015.
Bell on course
Josh Bell played in his second spring game Wednesday and his left knee appears to show no ill effects from the Feb. 1 surgery to remove a loose body.
“He’s responding well to the initial demands of the games in spring training,” Tomczyk said. “We’ll continue to monitor him and have the coaching staff evaluate to prepare him for the upcoming season.”
Bill Brink: firstname.lastname@example.org and Twitter @BrinkPG.
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