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Workout regimen keeping Alvarez in great shape

BRADENTON, Fla. -- A year ago, there was a lot of interest surrounding the shape in which Pedro Alvarez checked into Spring Training camp. The Pirates had wanted him to play winter ball during the 2011-12 offseason and he declined, preferring to follow his own workout regimen.

Thus, evaluating Alvarez's condition was a popular topic. Everyone was complimentary, eager to start things off on the right foot.

No such talk this spring -- when Alvarez bounces around Pirate City's fields in really great shape, after another offseason of work at the famed IMG Academy, the local hothouse for athletes. Fans crowding in for the workouts are visibly enthusiastic about the third baseman's chances of even improving on his 30-homer season.

"Pedro continues to have a better understanding of things he needs to do in the offseason to get himself in a good place for Spring Training, where he isn't trying to play catch up," said manager Clint Hurdle. "He worked extremely hard at IMG for an extended period of time, and was able to come into this camp in a very good place."

That goes for Alvarez's frame of mind, too. A year ago, coming off a disappointing sophomore season, he was reserved. Now, he is spirited and vocal as he goes through infield drills and batting practice.