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Gillaspie concerned with winning, not starting

Third baseman has made all 37 of his starts vs. right-handed pitching

PITTSBURGH -- Conor Gillaspie has one primary goal in relation to the 2015 season and it has nothing to do with reclaiming his starting job at third base.

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"The No. 1 goal here is to win," said the left-handed hitting Gillaspie prior to the start of Monday's game against the Pirates at PNC Park. "Whatever gives us the best chance, if that means sitting games, then I'm all right with it. So, you just try to always stay positive and keep working hard.

"Whatever they need: I stand true to that. I told you guys no matter what happens, that's always going to be."

Gillaspie has made 37 starts this season, with all of them coming against right-handed starters. But with the right-handed hitting Gordon Beckham's strong defense factored into the equation, as well as the team's overall struggles in that area resulting in -43 defensive runs saved per fangraphs, Beckham consistently has been starting even against right-handed pitchers.

Manager Robin Ventura, who returned Monday from a weekend away from his team due to his daughter, Madison's, college graduation, said that the situation at third base remains based on matchups.

"I know Conor hasn't found it quite yet and felt comfortable," Ventura said. "But when he's going, we're a better offensive team if we can get his bat in there."

"I'm definitely not in a groove. That's for sure. But the bottom line is we need to win games," Gillaspie said. "I've played a lot more the last two years and we weren't winning games. Truthfully it wasn't that much fun. Whatever we need to do to win games, I'm all in. Whatever that entails, let's get after it and hopefully we can start winning some games."

Pinch-hitting has become one of Gillaspie's duties, and he hit a go-ahead homer in that role Saturday against the Rays. He struck out to end Sunday's game in the same spot, reinforcing the belief of being ready early when getting that call.

"It's really hard. You just have to change a little bit. You have to be ready the first pitch," said Gillaspie of pinch-hitting. "Yesterday I wasn't quite ready the first pitch and three pitches you are out.

"You really have to be ready to hit. When you are playing or starting, you have some time to not take an at-bat off but you can see a pitch or two. Sometimes that helps you. When you are pinch-hitting, you have to be ready."

Scott Merkin is a reporter for Read his blog, Merk's Works, follow him on Twitter @scottmerkin and listen to his podcast.
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