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Emergency option: Morse gets work in at 3B

Pirates making sure club is covered in case Kang opens season on DL
MLB.com

BRADENTON, Fla. -- Michael Morse knows the very specific situation in which he might be called into action at third base for the Pirates.

"If there's 28 innings and no one's left," Morse said.

BRADENTON, Fla. -- Michael Morse knows the very specific situation in which he might be called into action at third base for the Pirates.

"If there's 28 innings and no one's left," Morse said.

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But Morse, who will likely be John Jaso's platoon partner at first base, spent part of Friday's workout at third base along with Jung Ho Kang and Cole Figueroa. It's unlikely Morse will work there during a game, but his familiarity with the position gives the Pirates another emergency option if Kang opens the season on the disabled list.

The Pirates have more traditional replacements for Kang, if they need one. Sean Rodriguez and Figueroa can play all over the infield, Jason Rogers has worked there in the past and Josh Harrison could move over if he's not at second base.

"We just wanted to come into spring, be more creative, be more open-minded, have different scenarios already in place if Kang's not ready Opening Day," manager Clint Hurdle said. "If he is ready Opening Day, we know which way he's going to go. If not, we've got some options and guys have put some time in for work."

Still, it was a little unusual to see Morse -- all 6-foot-5 and 245 pounds of him -- lining up at the hot corner. He broke into the Majors with the Mariners as a shortstop, though, and he's played nine games at third base, the last of them in 2009.

Morse said he likes to take ground balls all over the infield, adding that it helps improve his hands and footwork at first base.

"I take ground balls everywhere -- shortstop, third, first. Ask me last time I played, that's a different situation," he said, laughing. "We're not trying to get me to play over there. ... Again, I think it's good to help out your fielding, especially playing first base and stuff."

It also helps the Pirates as they split up their players for defensive drills, as Hurdle pointed out. Morse's workout group, which consists mostly of players expected to break camp with the Pirates, includes four potential first basemen -- Jaso, Morse, Rogers and Jake Goebbert -- plus utility man Rodriguez and outfielder Matt Joyce, who will put in some work at first.

"Guys can do the math, too. They look around. They can see things," Hurdle said. "You get to a point in your career where you're willing to try something new or figure out something new to see if it's going to help."

Adam Berry is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter at @adamdberry.

Pittsburgh Pirates, Michael Morse