Pirates Notebook: Winter ball an opportunity for d'Arnaud 'to progress'
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Chase d'Arnaud rated his Spanish-speaking skills as moderate.
"Not fluent like I'd like to be," he said, "but I work on it a lot."
He'll have the opportunity to practice in the offseason. D'Arnaud plans to play winter ball, manager Clint Hurdle said, most likely in the Dominican Republic with Class AAA Indianapolis manager Dean Treanor.
"The perfect world [winter ball] guys are either guys that are really working on something -- they've got a specific element of their game that they need to work on -- guys that have lost time to injury or guys that just need continued at-bats," general manager Neal Huntington said. "Chase really falls into almost all three of those. There could be some significant benefits if Chase were able to go to winter ball."
D'Arnaud, who missed some time because of a broken finger, hit .231 in 19 games in July, but was hitting .200 with a .223 on-base percentage in 125 major league at-bats entering Monday's game. He has displayed the ability to play at this level and is 9 for 9 in stolen base attempts but has lacked consistency.
"Offensively the game has been hard," Hurdle said. "The getting on base part. Once we get him on base, it's been really, really good."
D'Arnaud's batting, Hurdle said, needed the most improvement.
"With d'Arnaud, it's about establishing a consistent point of contact of impact with the baseball," he said. "Of hitting against his front leg, not sliding forward underneath. Recognizing spin, all those things up here that can be dynamic and challenging."
Winter ball will remove some of the pressure the major leagues place on the players, but d'Arnaud said he would not eliminate the competitive aspect.
"At the same time they still want to win, and so do I," he said. "As soon as it's game time, it's game time. Before the games I'll continue to progress and work on what I need to."
Hurdle said he would continue to rotate Pedro Alvarez and Josh Harrison at third base rather than give Alvarez a set of starts strung together.
"Give [Alvarez] the opportunity to get involved against some matchup guys," Hurdle said. "Some other guys have earned some playing time in his absence. I just don't want to turn my back on them or unplug them just because. Pedro's got these games, as everybody else does, an opportunity, I believe, in winter ball, and spring training.
Alvarez went 1 for 9 in four games since rejoining the Pirates Tuesday and was hitting .192 entering Monday's game. Harrison has struggled in September, hitting .194 in 10 games, but hit .326 with a .558 slugging percentage and seven extra-base hits in August.
Huntington said the Pirates were still finalizing who would play winter ball.
• Neil Walker and Andrew McCutchen lead the team with 145 games played, which Hurdle said will benefit their development and their leadership in the clubhouse.
"You need to have a couple men that go to the post over 150 times," he said. "I believe that with all my heart if they're capable, because it sets a tone, it sets a standard. Those guys actually become lightning rods in the clubhouse."
Hurdle said when he managed the Colorado Rockies, he tried to assemble a group of players who played the majority of the season to set the tone with their teammates.
First Published September 13, 2011 12:00 am