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Newman getting on-the-job training with Bucs

Rookie shortstop looks to benefit from Major League experience
MLB.com @adamdberry

ST. LOUIS -- At his home in Arizona, Pirates shortstop Kevin Newman keeps a handful of his most treasured baseball awards and accolades. He has an MVP award and a pair of batting titles from his time in the Cape Cod League, along with plenty of hardware he earned at the University of Arizona. This offseason, he'll add two glass-encased baseballs currently sitting inside his place in Pittsburgh: his first Major League hit and his first RBI.

"All that stuff is pretty important," Newman said on Monday. "None probably as cool as my first Major League hit."

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ST. LOUIS -- At his home in Arizona, Pirates shortstop Kevin Newman keeps a handful of his most treasured baseball awards and accolades. He has an MVP award and a pair of batting titles from his time in the Cape Cod League, along with plenty of hardware he earned at the University of Arizona. This offseason, he'll add two glass-encased baseballs currently sitting inside his place in Pittsburgh: his first Major League hit and his first RBI.

"All that stuff is pretty important," Newman said on Monday. "None probably as cool as my first Major League hit."

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While checking off those notable "firsts," Newman is also learning -- on the job -- his first lessons about life in the Majors. The rookie, who was called up on Aug. 16, entered Monday's series opener against the Cardinals at Busch Stadium with only five hits and 13 strikeouts in 43 plate appearances after hitting .302 for Triple-A Indianapolis this season.

Video: PIT@MIL: Newman doubles for 1st Major League hit

"The start here isn't how I would have liked to have started, but you come to the yard every day, getting better and learning more," Newman said. "The more you see guys, the more you learn from them. Going around and seeing these pitchers now is definitely going to help down the road."

Newman will continue to play on a regular basis over the final three weeks of the regular season as the Pirates look toward next year, and he believes he will benefit from his introduction to Major League pitching. Newman said he gathers more information from facing pitchers than watching them on video. This month, he'll get a chance to see the Bucs' National League Central rivals for the second time.

Shortstop Jordy Mercer will be a free agent at the end of the year, and Newman -- a first-round pick in the 2015 MLB Draft -- looks like his heir apparent. Mercer hasn't ruled out the possibility of returning to the club next year, but for now, he's serving as an example and sounding board for Newman as Clint Barmes once did for him.

"It makes all the difference in the world," Newman said. "Getting up here and being able to see how he works, what he does, how he prepares. He's an amazing guy and he's helped me along the way.

"It's great seeing these guys, how they work and everything. It's the big leagues; it's the big leagues for a reason. The guys up here are really good. It's a game of adjustments, and having to make those in-game adjustments against guys that are the best in the world is what it's all about."

Around the horn
• With Gregory Polanco out for the season due to left knee and shoulder injuries, the Pirates will use Adam Frazier, Jordan Luplow and Pablo Reyes in right field, manager Clint Hurdle said.

Jose Osuna could also be another option in right, but the club would prefer to see him work as a corner infielder. The Bucs also want to make sure that Frazier, who started in right on Monday, continues to get plenty of time at second base.

"I thought he was developing the best defense we've seen from him at second base, so I don't want to completely unplug him from that," Hurdle said of Frazier.

Video: PIT@STL: Hurdle on Harrison and Mercer's future

• Second baseman Josh Harrison on Monday made his first start since Aug. 31. Harrison has dealt with a left hamstring injury throughout the second half, and the Pirates decided at the beginning of the month to cut back on their veteran middle infielders' playing time -- perhaps limiting them to one start per series -- to get a better look at younger players like Newman and Kevin Kramer.

Harrison and Mercer started on Monday in part due to their experience against veteran Cardinals right-hander Adam Wainwright.

Adam Berry has covered the Pirates for MLB.com since 2015. Follow him on Twitter and Facebook and read his blog.

Pittsburgh Pirates, Kevin Newman