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Pirates pleased with infield versatility

Club has three men for two spots; injured Kingham's ankle progressing
MLB.com

PITTSBURGH -- Without Jung Ho Kang available, David Freese is the Pirates' regular third baseman. But exactly how often he starts there may be determined by how frequently manager Clint Hurdle chooses to play super-utility man Adam Frazier.

Josh Harrison's versatility gives Hurdle some flexibility in writing out the Pirates' infield each day. If Hurdle wants to start Frazier, he can do so at second base, moving Harrison to third base. If Freese is starting at third, Harrison can stay put at second base. While Freese and Harrison will start more often than not, it's essentially a three-man rotation for two spots.

Full Game Coverage

PITTSBURGH -- Without Jung Ho Kang available, David Freese is the Pirates' regular third baseman. But exactly how often he starts there may be determined by how frequently manager Clint Hurdle chooses to play super-utility man Adam Frazier.

Josh Harrison's versatility gives Hurdle some flexibility in writing out the Pirates' infield each day. If Hurdle wants to start Frazier, he can do so at second base, moving Harrison to third base. If Freese is starting at third, Harrison can stay put at second base. While Freese and Harrison will start more often than not, it's essentially a three-man rotation for two spots.

Full Game Coverage

"It's as much about how much Clint wants to use Adam Frazier," general manager Neal Huntington said. "The ability of Josh to go back and forth seamlessly is going to be important for us. … Clint's going to look at the information, follow where he thinks it's a good matchup and utilize those guys as effectively as he can."

Frazier started at second base and hit leadoff Saturday, with Harrison at third. Harrison was at second on Friday, with Freese at third and Starling Marte batting leadoff.

"It's as much as how he uses the matchups and how he best feels about the matchups with Adam, Josh and David," Huntington said. "We feel very comfortable that David can manage a huge part of the workload over there [at third base], but we also feel very comfortable that Josh and Adam can take their chunk as well."

Around the horn

Video: Top Prospects: Nick Kingham, RHP, Pirates

• Pitching prospect Nick Kingham, who could join the Pirates later this season if a need arises in the rotation, will be delayed to start the season due to a right ankle sprain. Kingham rolled his ankle in one of his first outings after being sent to Minor League camp this spring.

Kingham's ankle is "progressing OK," Huntington said, but there is a more significant hurdle to clear. Kingham was not fully stretched out to start prior to the injury, so he will need more time to build up his arm strength before joining Triple-A Indianapolis' rotation. Kingham may not be fully ready until May, setting back his potential timeline to help at the Major League level.

• The Pirates have seen a little bit of everything from their realigned outfield over the past week, including some highlight-reel plays and a few fundamental mistakes. Huntington said the group is showing "the typical adjustment period coming north" after a spring full of afternoon games.

Huntington also pointed to the new LED lights at PNC Park as a possible issue in Saturday's game. Along with reading the ball off the bat at a different angle, each outfielder must deal with a different background.

"We've had a few challenges," Huntington said. "At the same time, we feel like these guys are going to adjust quickly and be the outfield defense we believe they'll be."

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

This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Pittsburgh Pirates, Adam Frazier, David Freese, Josh Harrison