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Melky grateful for his opportunity with the Bucs

Veteran outfielder reports to camp vying for spot as fourth outfielder
MLB.com @adamdberry

BRADENTON, Fla. -- This season is already off to a better start than 2018 for Melky Cabrera. At this time a year ago, he was still waiting to sign. He kept waiting until late April before finding a match with the Indians on a Minor League contract. So the veteran outfielder felt like he was arriving early when he reported on time to Pirates camp on Sunday morning.

With a full Spring Training ahead of him, the 14-year veteran will have a chance to claim a spot as a fourth outfielder on the Pirates' Opening Day roster.

BRADENTON, Fla. -- This season is already off to a better start than 2018 for Melky Cabrera. At this time a year ago, he was still waiting to sign. He kept waiting until late April before finding a match with the Indians on a Minor League contract. So the veteran outfielder felt like he was arriving early when he reported on time to Pirates camp on Sunday morning.

With a full Spring Training ahead of him, the 14-year veteran will have a chance to claim a spot as a fourth outfielder on the Pirates' Opening Day roster.

"It feels great to be here early. I'm here to connect with this team, [to] be a part of this organization and to get started right away," Cabrera said through interpreter Mike Gonzalez. "The earlier, the better -- and that's going to be very helpful and beneficial for the team and for myself."

:: Spring Training coverage presented by Camping World ::

Cabrera walked into the Pirate City clubhouse early Sunday morning, unsure of where to find his No. 53 jersey. But he was greeted by several familiar faces.

Cabrera played last season in Cleveland with shortstop Erik Gonzalez and outfielder Lonnie Chisenhall. A native of Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic, Cabrera is also familiar with Francisco Liriano, Gregory Polanco, Starling Marte and Pablo Reyes, among others. He and catcher Francisco Cervelli have been friends since their time in the Yankees' system; he even said Cervelli put in a good word with the front office.

Whatever Cervelli said, it worked. The Pirates officially signed Cabrera to a Minor League deal last Monday, as pitchers and catchers were reporting for Spring Training. If he performs well this spring, the 34-year-old switch-hitter could serve as a backup for Chisenhall in right field.

If Chisenhall is sidelined -- calf injuries limited him each of the past two seasons -- Cabrera could step in as the regular right fielder until Polanco's surgically repaired left shoulder is fully healed.

Tweet from @adamdberry: Melky Cabrera and Pablo Reyes have reported to Pirates camp. Here���s Melky with interpreter Mike Gonzalez: pic.twitter.com/4baJYnytIm

"I just want to share my gratitude [to] the organization in giving me the opportunity. I'm glad to be here. I want to be here because I want to help this team win," Cabrera said. "In reality, I'm [of] the disposition of just [doing] whatever the team wants. Whatever's best to help this team win ... that's my goal. I want to play baseball, and I want to play on a winning team."

Cabrera isn't necessarily guaranteed a job, however. The Pirates could begin the season without a true fourth outfielder. They could use a bench spot to carry corner infielder/outfielder Jose Osuna, a super-utility man like Reyes or Nick Franklin, or fellow non-roster outfielders Patrick Kivlehan and JB Shuck.

But the Pirates are intrigued by Cabrera's ability to hit from both sides of the plate. Cabrera began last season in Triple-A and returned there in July. After rejoining the Indians in late July, however, he slashed .302/.363/.458 with six homers and only 28 strikeouts in 61 games.

"Honestly, I just feel great. Physically, I feel great. I know I'm 34, but I feel young -- and I still think I'm young," Cabrera said. "As long as I feel great and continue to just be physically in shape and mentally in shape, I'm going to continue to play. The moment I feel like that's gone, that's the day I'll hang it up."

Cabrera's experience also appealed to the Pirates. General manager Neal Huntington recently mentioned the Pirates' "need for some veteran presence in the position-player group," and Cabrera fits that job description. If he is added to the roster, this will be Cabrera's 15th year in the Majors.

"We've looked in the past for different guys to help us along -- whether it was A.J. Burnett, Russell Martin, David Freese. We've had some men come in and do this," manager Clint Hurdle said. "Liriano, coming back, he could definitely give us a shot in the arm along those lines. A guy like Melky Cabrera could give us a shot in the arm from that standpoint."

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

Pittsburgh Pirates, Melky Cabrera

Archer 'can't wait to experience' home opener

Pirates starter will take the mound in April 1 opener at PNC Park
MLB.com @adamdberry

BRADENTON, Fla. -- Chris Archer learned last season what it's like to pitch in front of a passionate Pittsburgh crowd. When he made his Pirates debut on Aug. 3 at PNC Park, fans roared for every two-strike pitch and erupted when he got out of jams.

"Probably for the first time in my career, I realized home-field advantage is a real thing," Archer said. "Having those fans in your corner, I've never experienced it on that level. I loved it, and I want to be a part of it for a long time."

BRADENTON, Fla. -- Chris Archer learned last season what it's like to pitch in front of a passionate Pittsburgh crowd. When he made his Pirates debut on Aug. 3 at PNC Park, fans roared for every two-strike pitch and erupted when he got out of jams.

"Probably for the first time in my career, I realized home-field advantage is a real thing," Archer said. "Having those fans in your corner, I've never experienced it on that level. I loved it, and I want to be a part of it for a long time.":: Spring Training coverage presented by Camping World ::

He will be a part of it again on April 1, when he is scheduled to start the Pirates' home opener against the Cardinals. When manager Clint Hurdle announced Pittsburgh's opening series rotation on Saturday, he also gave Archer the nod for the season's first game at PNC Park.

"It's going to be a lot of fun. The energy in the city around that time of the year, it's always buzzing," Archer said. "I've never been a part of it. I've only heard. And I can't wait to experience it."

Archer has spoken highly of Pittsburgh fans since he arrived in a non-waiver Trade Deadline deal with the Rays. The announced attendance at his Pirates debut -- also against the Cardinals -- was only 26,773, but the energy inside the ballpark stuck with him.

On Sunday, Archer said he was surprised by how quickly fans welcomed him. He got a different perspective of Pittsburgh fandom, too, by attending two Steelers games at Heinz Field last season.

"When people are passionate about me, it makes it easier to be passionate about them and the city and care about the betterment of the city and care about supporting the other sports teams," he said.

Archer follows the news and transactions throughout the offseason, particularly within his team's division. So he is well aware that the Cardinals, his first opponent, added perennial NL MVP candidate Paul Goldschmidt to a lineup that had already featured Matt Carpenter. Archer said he will start his preparation a week to 10 days before the game, looking at St. Louis' projected lineup and how the Cardinals' hitters performed this spring.

Pitching a prominent game to begin the season is nothing new for Archer. He was the Rays' Opening Day starter each of the past four years, which should make it a little easier to handle his first assignment of this season.

"It was always an honor. I don't look at this any differently," he said. "Just opening it up in front of the city is going to be a lot of fun, something I'm really looking forward to."

As for the Pirates' Opening Day starter? Archer had high praise for Jameson Taillon, comparing him to former teammate Blake Snell, the reigning American League Cy Young Award winner.

"It's well deserved," Archer said of Taillon's Opening Day nod. "He's still just scratching the surface. Honestly, it's a lot like when I was with Blake Snell last year. There's going to be even more greatness in him this year. I can see it."

Video: Hurdle Names Taillon and Archer Opening Day Starters

Around the horn
• All 62 players on the Pirates' roster for Major League Spring Training were in camp by Sunday's full-squad report date. Most of the position players were already working out at Pirate City. Melky Cabrera, Pablo Reyes and Will Craig arrived on Sunday to round out the group.

Position players had their physical exams on Sunday. Pittsburgh's first full-squad workout will take place on Monday morning.

• Live batting practice was the highlight of Sunday's workout for pitchers and catchers. A large group of Pirates pitchers threw to a handful of Minor Leaguers already in camp, giving them an early feel for throwing off the mound with someone in the batter's box.

Tweet from @adamdberry: Vazquez pitching, Cruz in the box pic.twitter.com/vmMOb2UPLe

On Field 1, Taillon and right-hander Trevor Williams pitched to infield prospect Ji-Hwan Bae. Meanwhile, on Field 3, prospect Oneil Cruz got in the box against closer Felipe Vazquez and top prospect Mitch Keller.

• The Pirates had a guest in camp on Sunday morning: legendary college basketball broadcaster Dick Vitale, who resides in nearby Lakewood Ranch, Fla. Vitale spoke with catcher Jacob Stallings, the son of former University of Pittsburgh basketball coach Kevin Stallings, and chatted with guest instructor Rennie Stennett during early batting practice.

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

Pittsburgh Pirates, Chris Archer

Bright side: Reasons for optimism for each team

MLB.com @RichardJustice

On this opening week of Spring Training, all 30 Major League teams have one thing in common: optimism. You've read a lot about teams being all-in for 2019 and also about some teams rebuilding. Here's what's also true: When players and coaches get to work in Florida and Arizona, optimism is infectious.

That's the very nature of the sport. Every single team is excited about something. Some teams want to get a look at the new acquisitions. Others want to see prospects or returning veterans or unheralded players hoping for a new start.

On this opening week of Spring Training, all 30 Major League teams have one thing in common: optimism. You've read a lot about teams being all-in for 2019 and also about some teams rebuilding. Here's what's also true: When players and coaches get to work in Florida and Arizona, optimism is infectious.

That's the very nature of the sport. Every single team is excited about something. Some teams want to get a look at the new acquisitions. Others want to see prospects or returning veterans or unheralded players hoping for a new start.

Some of it is the warmer weather of Spring Training. Some of it is the guys seeing one another again. And some of it is simply putting the uniform on and getting back out on the field and doing the thing they love more than anything.

Here's an optimism cheat sheet for all 30 teams:

NATIONAL LEAGUE EAST

Braves: Josh Donaldson
To a young team that won the NL East and has a deep farm system comes a 33-year-old former American League Most Valuable Player ready to prove he's still one of the best players in the game.

Video: Donaldson thrilled to be with the Braves

Marlins: Youth
Manager Don Mattingly's Opening Day lineup probably will have at least six players in their 20s, and it's going to be fun watching those young guys grow and begin to prove themselves.

Mets: Expectations
The Mets finally have some after an offseason in which they've been upgraded all over the place while holding onto a rotation that might be baseball's best.

Nationals: Max Scherzer
His every start is a must-see event, and now he's the biggest name on a team that has had a tremendous offseason and might just be the NL's best team whether Bryce Harper returns or not.

Phillies: Anticipation
The Phillies made a string of solid acquisitions and remain in the middle of the race for Harper and/or Manny Machado. Regardless of how that plays out, the additions of J.T. Realmuto, Andrew McCutchen, Jean Segura and David Robertson have moved them closer to a postseason berth.

NL CENTRAL

Brewers: NL's best record
The Brewers were one win from going to the World Series and are bringing back the core of that 2018 team, in addition to upgrades behind the plate (signing Yasmani Grandal) and in the rotation (the return of injured ace Jimmy Nelson).

Cardinals: Paul Goldschmidt
He's on the short list of baseball's best offensive players and could transform the lineup, if not the entire team. With the signing of lefty reliever Andrew Miller and a slew of young arms, the Cardinals probably could not feel better about 2019.

Video: Paul Goldschmidt gets formally introduced

Cubs: Yu Darvish
He's ready to be the ace the Cubs projected he would be in 2018, when he was limited to just eight starts in his first year with the club due to injury. If the Cubs can keep Darvish and their other core guys on the field, there may not be a better NL team.

Pirates: Youth
Don't sleep on this team. The starting rotation could be very good. If third base prospect Ke'Bryan Hayes makes his debut in the first half of the season, he'll join first baseman Josh Bell to give the Pirates a solid pair of corner infielders to go with a potentially very good outfield.

Reds: Rotation
The Reds could turn a big corner with the addition of Alex Wood, Sonny Gray and Tanner Roark to the rotation. Watching new right fielder Yasiel Puig hit in Great American Ball Park could be one of the best shows in baseball.

NL WEST

D-backs: Rotation
There are legitimate reasons to be excited about this club, thanks to a rotation that could be as good as any in the NL with Taijuan Walker back from Tommy John surgery and Zack Greinke, Robbie Ray and Zack Godley all returning.

Dodgers: Corey Seager
With six straight division championships and back-to-back NL pennants in their pocket, the Dodgers are getting potentially their best player back from Tommy John surgery.

Video: BP, throwing across diamond next on docket for Seager

Giants: Madison Bumgarner
He's healthy again after injuries limited him to 38 starts the last two seasons. Last time he pitched a full season was 2016 when he threw 226 2/3 innings, and the Giants made the playoffs. Go ahead and connect the dots.

Padres: Youth
The Padres have 10 of MLB Pipeline's Top 100 prospects, a record. Even better is that at least four of them, including shortstop Fernando Tatis Jr. (No. 2 overall), are projected to play in the big leagues this season.

Rockies: Nolan Arenado
Both sides are publicly optimistic he'll be signed to an extension before reaching free agency after the season. Meanwhile, his team is positioned for a third straight postseason appearance, thanks to what should be the best rotation in franchise history.

AL EAST

Blue Jays: Vladimir Guerrero Jr.
He's the top prospect in the sport and one of the best hitting prospects ever, according to MLB Pipeline, and will be playing third base for the Blue Jays at some point this season. He's the face of a wave of kids that will usher in a new chapter of baseball in Toronto.

Video: Top Prospects: Vladimir Guerrero Jr., 3B, Blue Jays

Orioles: The future
The Orioles are being rebuilt by two of the men -- Mike Elias and Sig Mejdal -- who helped make the Astros a powerhouse. This season will be devoted to throwing young kids on the field and giving them a chance to show they belong, much the way Houston did a few years before winning a World Series.

Rays: Front office
Smartest in baseball? It's in the conversation. Same thing with manager Kevin Cash. Last season's 90-win team reinforced both those notions. They've gotten better this offseason with depth and flexibility up and down the roster.

Red Sox: Trophy case
Why would the Red Sox be optimistic? Other than winning the World Series four times in 15 seasons. Other than having the reigning AL MVP (Mookie Betts) and an offense and rotation that could be baseball's best.

Yankees: Bullpen
General manager Brian Cashman upgraded his team all over the place, especially in the bullpen, which has a chance to be one of the best ever. No division has three teams as good as the top three in the AL East.

AL CENTRAL

Indians: Rotation
There may not be one better, and that's why the front office resisted the temptation to trade a starter for a hitter. The Indians are solid favorites to win the AL Central again, and that rotation could make them a formidable October opponent.

Royals: Kyle Zimmer
What a story. He is a former top pitching prospect whose career appeared to be over after four surgeries. He was sent to the Driveline Baseball program in Seattle as sort of a last-chance saloon. Now at 27, he's throwing hard and without pain and should make his Major League debut in 2019.

Video: Kyle Zimmer on returning to form going into 2019

Tigers: Miguel Cabrera
His 2018 season ended after 38 games when he underwent biceps surgery. Now 35 years old, he's ready to continue building on a Hall of Fame resume.

Twins: Byron Buxton
He has added 21 pounds of muscle and seems confident he'll get his career back on track after a tough 2018 season that was mostly spent in the Minor Leagues. He's still only 25, and the Twins are hopeful he can be the electrifying presence he was once projected to be.

White Sox: Eloy Jimenez
He's the crown jewel of a very good farm system and ranked No. 3 overall by MLB Pipeline. Injuries delayed his debut last summer, and now that he's healthy again, he'll be the most-watched player at Sox camp.

AL WEST

Angels: Mike Trout
OK, this is stating the obvious. We could be watching one of baseball's 10 greatest players ever at his peak, and the Angels may have constructed a team that'll help put Trout on display in October.

Astros: Alex Bregman
He did more than emerge as a great player in 2018. He also became a huge presence in his community, giving of his time and money and making himself a role model for every other professional athlete.

Athletics: Matt Chapman
If you're not completely familiar with his game, you soon will be. He's a generational defensive player at third and on his way to becoming one of the players every other is compared to.

Mariners: Yusei Kikuchi
He was the most interesting addition in an offseason of change for the Mariners and will slot between Marco Gonzales and Mike Leake in a rotation that will give Seattle a chance to be competitive.

Video: Yusei Kikuchi discusses his first bullpen session

Rangers: Joey Gallo
There's a buzz the moment he steps into the batter's box. His 81 home runs the last two seasons are the fourth most in the Majors. His 93.9 mph average exit velocity is third highest.

Richard Justice has been a reporter for MLB.com since 2011. Read his columns, listen to his podcast and follow him on Twitter at @RichardJustice.

Taillon named Opening Day starter for Pirates

Williams, Musgrove to follow; Archer to start home opener vs. Cards
MLB.com @adamdberry

BRADENTON, Fla. -- On Friday, Pirates pitching coach Ray Searage sent a text message to Jameson Taillon, Trevor Williams and Joe Musgrove with a simple message: Talk to manager Clint Hurdle tomorrow. The three pitchers filed into Hurdle's office together on Saturday and sat side by side as Hurdle made the announcement: Taillon will start on Opening Day. 

It will be the first Opening Day start for Taillon, who will take the mound against the Reds on March 28 at Great American Ball Park. Williams will start the second game of the season, and Musgrove is scheduled to pitch on March 31. Right-hander Chris Archer will start the Pirates' home opener against the Cardinals on April 1 at PNC Park.

BRADENTON, Fla. -- On Friday, Pirates pitching coach Ray Searage sent a text message to Jameson Taillon, Trevor Williams and Joe Musgrove with a simple message: Talk to manager Clint Hurdle tomorrow. The three pitchers filed into Hurdle's office together on Saturday and sat side by side as Hurdle made the announcement: Taillon will start on Opening Day. 

It will be the first Opening Day start for Taillon, who will take the mound against the Reds on March 28 at Great American Ball Park. Williams will start the second game of the season, and Musgrove is scheduled to pitch on March 31. Right-hander Chris Archer will start the Pirates' home opener against the Cardinals on April 1 at PNC Park.

:: Spring Training coverage presented by Camping World ::

"I believe Jamo's earned it across the board," Hurdle said. "Trevor did some nice things. Archer's done it in the past. There is an important aspect of the Opening Day at home for me as well, so we've put two men in play that we think will represent the club the best way we can to get out of the blocks clean and set up the first four games of the season."

Taillon, Williams and Musgrove exchanged what Taillon called "bro hugs" in Hurdle's office to celebrate the news. Being the Opening Day starter is an especially significant honor for the 27-year-old Taillon.

"It's something that every guy wants to have," he said. "I seriously mean this: I think we have a bunch of guys who could take the ball on Opening Day. That makes it even more of an honor."

That Taillon's first Opening Day start will come in Cincinnati is particularly meaningful. In a way, it will be a reminder of what he's overcome to reach this point.

It was less than two years ago, on what he called "a normal Tuesday night in Cincinnati," that Taillon discovered a lump that turned out to be testicular cancer. Six days later, he had surgery, and five weeks after that, he returned to a big league mound and pitched five scoreless innings at PNC Park.

Taillon struggled through the second half of 2017, but he resolved to put together a full season last year. He did that while taking a significant step forward, finishing with a 3.20 ERA in 191 innings over 32 starts. Taillon led the Pirates in Wins Above Replacement (4.4), according to Baseball-Reference, and ranked fifth among all National League pitchers in WAR.

Taillon believes he can reach another level this year. He added a slider to his repertoire on the fly last season, and he'll spend this spring sharpening that pitch to complement his fastball and curveball.

"Being an Opening Day starter for one of the 30 Major League teams, that's pretty special right there," Taillon said. "A long way to go. I'd love to put together another full year, but this is something I'm definitely proud of and something I can take with me the rest of my life."

Williams was one of the Majors' best second-half stories last season, rebounding from a rough stretch to post a 1.29 ERA in his final 13 starts and finishing the year with a 3.11 ERA in 170 2/3 innings over 31 starts.

The Pirates are counting on good health for Musgrove, who made only 19 starts last year. He was effective when he was on the mound, putting together a 4.06 ERA and 1.18 WHIP in 115 1/3 innings. They have not yet selected a fifth starter to round out their rotation, but the top candidates are Jordan Lyles, Nick Kingham and Steven Brault.

Video: Archer excited to be Pirates' Opening Day starter

Archer, the Rays' Opening Day starter each of the last four years, will get to pitch Pittsburgh's first home game of the season. The right-hander made his Pirates debut at PNC Park on Aug. 3, and the excitement around his arrival created one of the Bucs' most raucous home crowds of the season. The Pirates are hoping for a similar atmosphere for his 2019 debut.

"If there's any energy in the room, Archer's going to find it," Hurdle said, smiling. "He can definitely feed off the energy at PNC, for sure."

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

Pittsburgh Pirates, Jameson Taillon

Frazier prepares to thrive as everyday 2B

All but three players have reported; Pirates use Rapsodo to help inform hitters
MLB.com @adamdberry

BRADENTON, Fla. -- When the early-arriving position players made their way out to one of the fields at the Pirate City complex on Saturday morning, Adam Frazier lined up with prospect Kevin Kramer at second base. Frazier can get comfortable there after years of bouncing around the diamond.

Frazier is set to be the Pirates' starting second baseman this season. So unless there's an unexpected development, he doesn't have to worry about following his work at second with fly balls in the outfield or grounders at another position. The Bucs hope that kind of consistency will bring out the best in him.

BRADENTON, Fla. -- When the early-arriving position players made their way out to one of the fields at the Pirate City complex on Saturday morning, Adam Frazier lined up with prospect Kevin Kramer at second base. Frazier can get comfortable there after years of bouncing around the diamond.

Frazier is set to be the Pirates' starting second baseman this season. So unless there's an unexpected development, he doesn't have to worry about following his work at second with fly balls in the outfield or grounders at another position. The Bucs hope that kind of consistency will bring out the best in him.:: Spring Training coverage presented by Camping World ::

"Still a lot of work to do, but I'm looking forward to doing that here in spring, then hitting the ground running," Frazier said. "Being able to focus on that one position is huge mentally, not having to scatter thoughts everywhere and run out to different places every day. I'm looking forward to that."

Frazier said he learned during his exit interview last season that the Pirates' plan was to use him exclusively at second base going forward. He is effectively taking over for free agent Josh Harrison, also a former super-utility man who earned an everyday role. When Frazier worked out this winter, he did so only at second base.

"That was nice going into the offseason, having that thought in the back of my head that I could prepare that way," he said.

Frazier occasionally struggled in the infield as he moved around the field, playing six positions during his first three seasons. He showed improvement at second base late last season, however, after being demoted to Triple-A Indianapolis and working with Pirates infield coordinator Gary Green.

"[Green] had asked me what I needed to work on and what I wanted to do, so we hit that," Frazier said. "I just tried to attack the ball with my feet more and with my hands, getting through the ball instead of getting stuck back waiting on it. That focus down there, when I came back, I was able to do it at the big league level. It was basically just being more aggressive."

Tweet from @adamdberry: A little infield work ��� Moran at 3B, Gonzalez and Newman at SS, Frazier and Kramer at 2B pic.twitter.com/PFtQ2jBnJN

Frazier's second-half adjustment at the plate was less complicated. For the first few months of the season, his swing was too long and his timing was off because his hands were too high.

"I thought I knew my swing going into last season. I've always kind of prided myself on that. But after seeing the video, where I was at and where I usually am, it was pretty eye-opening," Frazier said. "I made that change, got the cues I want to work on -- keep the hands low and stuff like that."

Frazier's father, Tim, helped identify the problem, and Frazier made the necessary changes in Triple-A. He took off at the plate after he returned to the Majors on July 25, slashing .306/.357/.533 with seven homers the rest of the way.

"There's no reason for him to make any adjustment right now," manager Clint Hurdle said.

Around the horn
• Center fielder Starling Marte, shortstop Erik Gonzalez and outfield prospects Bryan Reynolds and Jason Martin joined the position players at Pirate City on Saturday. As of Saturday morning, only three hitters had not reported: Pablo Reyes, the recently signed Melky Cabrera and first-base prospect Will Craig.

• This is the first Spring Training that the Pirates are using Rapsodo tracking technology for their hitters. Rapsodo captures information such as exit velocity and launch angle as well as spin rate, among other data, for pitchers. New hitting coaches Rick Eckstein and Jacob Cruz are well-versed in the technology, Hurdle said, and the Pirates introduced it to their players over the winter.

"We wanted to incorporate it into our training sessions just so we could give them some instant feedback daily. We believe there's some value to it," Hurdle said. "There's some information that we can glean from it that can be productive for the guys as they continue to look for positive feedback in some of the swing adjustments they're making."

• The Pirates are scheduled to begin live batting practice, when their pitchers face their hitters, during Sunday's workout. Pittsburgh's big league pitchers will throw to hitters who reported early for Minor League camp.

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

Pittsburgh Pirates, Adam Frazier

Improved defense a priority for Moran

Pirates third baseman working on range, relying on analytics
MLB.com @adamdberry

BRADENTON, Fla. -- Colin Moran entered the offseason looking for ways to improve his defense at third base, but he did not spend all winter fielding thousands of ground balls per day.

Moran first focused on improving his mobility, which he hopes will lead to better range as he prepares for his second full season in the Majors.

BRADENTON, Fla. -- Colin Moran entered the offseason looking for ways to improve his defense at third base, but he did not spend all winter fielding thousands of ground balls per day.

Moran first focused on improving his mobility, which he hopes will lead to better range as he prepares for his second full season in the Majors.

"It was more about working on my body and making sure that, when I'm ready to go, the right muscles are firing and I'm ready to get going with that first step," Moran said Friday at Pirate City. "It's something I worked hard on, and I'll continue to work hard on it."

Moran finished last season with a .962 fielding percentage and minus-8 defensive runs saved. According to the SABR Defensive Index, he was the worst regular third baseman in the National League. Those numbers are revealing, but they were also enlightening for Moran.

The Pirates also provided Moran with more specific information about his route efficiency, first-step quickness and range last season. As the spring goes on, they'll be able to track his progress.

"I think he said it best: It's the first time he'd really gotten measured defensively," Pirates manager Clint Hurdle said. "Once the season was over, we were able to dig deeper and actually show him a different set of numbers and some different areas which we think he can improve upon and we think he can categorically get better. And he's all in."

Tweet from @adamdberry: I believe we���ve all said third base and shortstop are ���positions to watch��� this spring. So here we are watching Moran and Kang at 3B, Newman and Tucker at SS. pic.twitter.com/Ii2HRO4OtZ

So Moran, who said he was limited in the field last season due to tightness and a lack of flexibility, went to work. He learned more about how to prepare his body -- techniques like foam rolling -- and developed a plan to do so. That process will continue into Spring Training, when he said he will also work on reading balls off the bat.

"There's going to be some data that we're going to continue to be able to crunch through Spring Training and show him the areas that he's improving in," Hurdle said. "He's already started to feel the ability for more freedom and movement in going left and right, and that's going to help him get to more balls."

Improved defense might help Moran win the Pirates' third-base job. He'll compete this spring with Jung Ho Kang, who missed most of the past two years due to legal issues. General manager Neal Huntington has said Kang has "everyday opportunity" if he returns to his 2015-16 form, but Moran still has a chance to claim the job if he shows more range in the field and power at the plate.

Moran slashed .277/.340/.407 in 144 games as a rookie. His work with new hitting coach Rick Eckstein began before he reported to Spring Training. Eckstein visited Moran in December, and the two spent hours working and talking in the batting cage at the Ultimate Performance Sports facility in Charlotte, N.C., Moran's new offseason home.

"[Eckstein's] good. He's intense. I like it. He's very driven and kind of specific with things," Moran said. "He gave me a good direction to go in, then let me be for the rest of the offseason, just kind of checked in. I think some of the adjustments that I worked on should help."

Moran offered a glimpse of his potential late last season. He started to make adjustments at the plate in August, altering his approach and taking a small step back in the box. They took hold in September, when he slashed .296/.375/.537 in 24 games.

"I know he felt much better at the end of the season than he felt in the middle of August," Hurdle said. "Getting that first full Major League season in, he has a much better understanding of what he's capable of doing and the importance of what he does in the lineup."

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

Pittsburgh Pirates, Colin Moran

Projected 2019 lineups, rotations for every team

MLB.com

Spring Training is here, so now is a good time to project what each club's Opening Day lineup and rotation would look like if the season began today. Of course, rosters are still fluid at this point, but with help from all 30 MLB.com beat writers, here's a roundup of how they might turn out.

Spring Training is here, so now is a good time to project what each club's Opening Day lineup and rotation would look like if the season began today. Of course, rosters are still fluid at this point, but with help from all 30 MLB.com beat writers, here's a roundup of how they might turn out.

:: Spring Training coverage presented by Camping World ::

AMERICAN LEAGUE EAST

BLUE JAYS
Lineup:
1. Devon Travis, 2B
2. Lourdes Gurriel Jr., SS
3. Justin Smoak, 1B
4. Kendrys Morales, DH
5. Randal Grichuk, RF
6. Teoscar Hernandez, LF
7. Kevin Pillar, CF
8. Brandon Drury, 3B
9. Danny Jansen, C

Rotation and closer:
1. Marcus Stroman, RHP
2. Aaron Sanchez, RHP
3. Ryan Borucki, LHP
4. Matt Shoemaker, RHP
5. Clayton Richard, LHP
Closer: Ken Giles, RHP

ORIOLES
Lineup:
1. Cedric Mullins, CF
2. Jonathan Villar, 2B
3. Trey Mancini, LF
4. Mark Trumbo, DH
5. Chris Davis, 1B
6. Renato Nunez, 3B
7. DJ Stewart, RF
8. Richie Martin, SS
9. Chance Sisco, C

Rotation and closer:
1. Dylan Bundy, RHP
2. Andrew Cashner, RHP
3. Alex Cobb, RHP
4. David Hess, RHP
5. Nate Karns, RHP
Closer: Mychal Givens, RHP

RAYS
Lineup:
1. Kevin Kiermaier, CF
2. Matt Duffy, 3B
3. Tommy Pham, LF
4. Ji-Man Choi, DH
5. Willy Adames, SS
6. Yandy Diaz, 1B
7. Austin Meadows, RF
8. Mike Zunino, C
9. Joey Wendle, 2B

Rotation and closer:
1. Blake Snell, LHP
2. Charlie Morton, RHP
3. Opener
4. Tyler Glasnow, RHP
5. Opener
Closer: Jose Alvarado, LHP

RED SOX
Lineup:
1. Andrew Benintendi, LF
2. Mookie Betts, RF
3. J.D. Martinez, DH
4. Xander Bogaerts, SS
5. Mitch Moreland, 1B
6. Dustin Pedroia, 2B
7. Rafael Devers, 3B
8. Jackie Bradley Jr., CF
9. Christian Vazquez, C

Rotation and closer:
1. Chris Sale, LHP
2. David Price, LHP
3. Rick Porcello, RHP
4. Nathan Eovaldi, RHP
5. Eduardo Rodriguez, LHP
Closer: Matt Barnes, RHP 

YANKEES
Lineup:
1. Brett Gardner, LF
2. Aaron Judge, RF
3. Aaron Hicks, CF
4. Giancarlo Stanton, DH
5. Gary Sanchez, C
6. Miguel Andujar, 3B
7. Gleyber Torres, 2B
8. Luke Voit, 1B
9. Troy Tulowitzki, SS

Rotation and closer:
1. Luis Severino, RHP
2. James Paxton, LHP
3. Masahiro Tanaka, RHP
4. J.A. Happ, LHP
5. CC Sabathia, LHP
Closer: Aroldis Chapman, LHP

AMERICAN LEAGUE CENTRAL

INDIANS
Lineup:
1. Leonys Martin, CF
2. Jason Kipnis, 2B
3. Jose Ramirez, 3B
4. Carlos Santana, DH
5. Jake Bauers, 1B
6. Tyler Naquin, RF
7. Jordan Luplow, LF
8. Roberto Perez, C
9. Yu Chang, SS

Rotation and closer:
1. Corey Kluber, RHP
2. Trevor Bauer, RHP
3. Carlos Carrasco, RHP
4. Mike Clevinger, RHP
5. Shane Bieber, RHP
Closer: Brad Hand, LHP

ROYALS
Lineup:
1. Whit Merrifield, 2B
2. Adalberto Mondesi, SS
3. Alex Gordon, LF
4. Jorge Soler, DH
5. Salvador Perez, C
6. Ryan O'Hearn,1B
7. Hunter Dozier, 3B
8. Brett Phillips, RF
9. Billy Hamilton, CF

Rotation and closer:
1. Danny Duffy, LHP
2. Brad Keller, RHP
3. Jakob Junis, RHP
4. Ian Kennedy, RHP
5. Jorge Lopez, RHP
Closer: Brad Boxberger, RHP

TIGERS
Lineup:
1. Jeimer Candelario, 3B
2. Christin Stewart, LF
3. Nicholas Castellanos, RF
4. Miguel Cabrera, 1B
5. Niko Goodrum, 2B
6. John Hicks, DH
7. Grayson Greiner, C
8. JaCoby Jones, CF
9. Jordy Mercer, SS

Rotation and closer:
1. Matthew Boyd, LHP
2. Michael Fulmer, RHP
3. Jordan Zimmermann, RHP
4. Matt Moore, LHP
5. Tyson Ross, RHP
Closer: Shane Greene, RHP

TWINS
Lineup:
1. Jorge Polanco, SS
2. Eddie Rosario, LF
3. Miguel Sano, 3B
4. Nelson Cruz, DH
5. C.J. Cron, 1B
6. Max Kepler, RF
7. Jonathan Schoop, 2B
8. Jason Castro, C
9. Byron Buxton, CF

Rotation and closer:
1. Jose Berrios, RHP
2. Kyle Gibson, RHP
3. Michael Pineda, RHP
4. Jake Odorizzi, RHP
5. Martin Perez, LHP
Closer: Trevor May, RHP

WHITE SOX
Lineup:
1. Jon Jay, RF
2. Yoan Moncada, 2B
3. Jose Abreu, 1B
4. Yonder Alonso, DH
5. Welington Castillo, C
6. Daniel Palka, LF
7. Tim Anderson, SS
8. Yolmer Sanchez, 3B
9. Adam Engel, CF

Rotation and closer:
1. Carlos Rodon, LHP
2. Reynaldo Lopez, RHP
3. Ivan Nova, RHP
4. Lucas Giolito, RHP
5. Manny Banuelos, LHP
Closer: Alex Colome, RHP

AMERICAN LEAGUE WEST

ANGELS
Lineup:
1. Zack Cozart, 3B
2. Mike Trout, CF
3. Justin Upton, LF
4. Justin Bour, 1B
5. Albert Pujols, DH
6. Andrelton Simmons, SS
7. Kole Calhoun, RF
8. David Fletcher, 2B
9. Jonathan Lucroy, C

Rotation and closer:
1. Tyler Skaggs, LHP
2. Andrew Heaney, LHP
3. Matt Harvey, RHP
4. Trevor Cahill, RHP
5. Jaime Barria, RHP
Closer: Cody Allen, RHP

ASTROS
Lineup:
1. George Springer, CF
2. Alex Bregman, 3B
3. Jose Altuve, 2B
4. Carlos Correa, SS
5. Michael Brantley, LF
6. Yuli Gurriel, 1B
7. Josh Reddick, RF
8. Tyler White, DH
9. Robinson Chirinos, C

Rotation and closer:
1. Justin Verlander, RHP
2. Gerrit Cole, RHP
3. Wade Miley, LHP
4. Collin McHugh, RHP
5. Josh James, RHP
Closer: Roberto Osuna, RHP

ATHLETICS
Lineup:
1. Nick Martini, LF
2. Matt Chapman, 3B
3. Matt Olson, 1B
4. Khris Davis, DH
5. Stephen Piscotty, RF
6. Jurickson Profar, 2B
7. Ramon Laureano, CF
8. Marcus Semien, SS
9. Chris Herrmann, C

Rotation and closer:
1. Mike Fiers, RHP
2. Marco Estrada, RHP
3. Brett Anderson, LHP
4. Daniel Mengden, RHP
5. Paul Blackburn, RHP
Closer: Blake Treinen, RHP

MARINERS
Lineup:
1. Mallex Smith, CF
2. Mitch Haniger, RF
3. Edwin Encarnacion, DH
4. Kyle Seager, 3B
5. Domingo Santana, LF
6. Ryon Healy, 1B
7. Omar Narvaez, C
8. Tim Beckham, SS
9. Dee Gordon, 2B

Rotation and closer:
1. Marco Gonzales, LHP
2. Yusei Kikuchi, LHP
3. Mike Leake, RHP
4. Wade LeBlanc, LHP
5. Felix Hernandez, RHP
Closer: Hunter Strickland, RHP

RANGERS
Lineup:
1. Delino DeShields, CF
2. Elvis Andrus, SS
3. Shin-Soo Choo, DH
4. Nomar Mazara, RF
5. Asdrubal Cabrera, 3B
6. Joey Gallo, LF
7. Rougned Odor, 2B
8. Ronald Guzman, 1B
9. Jeff Mathis, C

Rotation and closer:
1. Mike Minor, LHP 
2. Lance Lynn, RHP
3. Drew Smyly, LHP
4. Edinson Volquez, RHP
5. Shelby Miller, RHP
Closer: Jose Leclerc, RHP

NATIONAL LEAGUE EAST

BRAVES
Lineup:
1. Ender Inciarte, CF
2. Josh Donaldson, 3B
3. Freddie Freeman, 1B
4. Ronald Acuna Jr., LF
5. Nick Markakis, RF
6. Tyler Flowers, C
7. Ozzie Albies, 2B
8. Dansby Swanson, SS

Rotation and closer:
1. Mike Foltynewicz, RHP
2. Sean Newcomb, LHP
3. Kevin Gausman, RHP
4. Julio Teheran, RHP
5. Touki Toussaint, RHP
Closer: Arodys Vizcaino, RHP

MARLINS
Lineup:
1. Lewis Brinson, CF
2. Curtis Granderson, LF
3. Starlin Castro, 2B
4. Brian Anderson, 3B
5. Peter O'Brien, RF
6. Neil Walker, 1B
7. Jorge Alfaro, C
8. JT Riddle, SS

Rotation and closer:
1. Jose Urena, RHP
2. Dan Straily, RHP
3. Wei-Yin Chen, LHP
4. Sandy Alcantara, RHP
5. Trevor Richards, RHP
Closer: Drew Steckenrider, RHP

METS
Lineup:
1. Brandon Nimmo, RF
2. Jed Lowrie, 3B
3. Robinson Cano, 2B
4. Wilson Ramos, C
5. Michael Conforto, LF
6. Todd Frazier, 1B
7. Juan Lagares, CF
8. Amed Rosario, SS

Rotation and closer:
1. Jacob deGrom, RHP
2. Noah Syndergaard, RHP
3. Zack Wheeler, RHP
4. Steven Matz, LHP
5. Jason Vargas, LHP
Closer: Edwin Diaz, RHP

NATIONALS
Lineup:
1. Adam Eaton, RF
2. Trea Turner, SS
3. Anthony Rendon, 3B
4. Juan Soto, LF
5. Ryan Zimmerman, 1B
6. Brian Dozier, 2B
7. Victor Robles, CF
8. Yan Gomes, C

Rotation and closer:
1. Max Scherzer, RHP
2. Stephen Strasburg, RHP
3. Patrick Corbin, LHP
4. Anibal Sanchez, RHP
5. Jeremy Hellickson, RHP
Closer: Sean Doolittle, LHP

PHILLIES
Lineup:
1. Cesar Hernandez, 2B
2. Jean Segura, SS
3. J.T. Realmuto, C
4. Rhys Hoskins, 1B
5. Andrew McCutchen, LF
6. Odubel Herrera, CF
7. Maikel Franco, 3B
8. Nick Williams, RF

Rotation and closer:
1. Aaron Nola, RHP
2. Jake Arrieta, RHP
3. Nick Pivetta, RHP
4. Zach Eflin, RHP
5. Vince Velasquez, RHP
Closer: David Robertson, RHP, or Seranthony Dominguez, RHP

NATIONAL LEAGUE CENTRAL

BREWERS
Lineup:
1. Lorenzo Cain, CF
2. Christian Yelich, RF
3. Ryan Braun, LF
4. Travis Shaw, 3B
5. Jesus Aguilar, 1B
6. Yasmani Grandal, C
7. Cory Spangenberg, 2B
8. Orlando Arcia, SS

Rotation and closer:
1. Jhoulys Chacin, RHP
2. Chase Anderson, RHP
3. Zach Davies, RHP
4. Jimmy Nelson, RHP
5. Brandon Woodruff, RHP
Closer: Corey Knebel, RHP

CARDINALS
Lineup:
1. Matt Carpenter, 3B
2. Paul Goldschmidt, 1B
3. Paul DeJong, SS
4. Marcell Ozuna, LF
5. Dexter Fowler, RF
6. Yadier Molina, C
7. Kolten Wong, 2B
8. Harrison Bader, CF

Rotation and closer:
1. Miles Mikolas, RHP
2. Carlos Martinez, RHP
3. Jack Flaherty, RHP
4. Michael Wacha, RHP
5. Adam Wainwright, RHP
Closer: Andrew Miller, LHP

CUBS
Lineup:
1. Ben Zobrist, 2B
2. Kris Bryant, 3B
3. Anthony Rizzo, 1B
4. Javier Baez, SS
5. Kyle Schwarber, LF
6. Willson Contreras, C
7. Jason Heyward, RF
8. Albert Almora Jr., CF

Rotation and closer:
1. Jon Lester, LHP
2. Kyle Hendricks, RHP
3. Cole Hamels, LHP
4. Yu Darvish, RHP
5. Jose Quintana, LHP
Closer: Pedro Strop, RHP

PIRATES
Lineup:
1. Adam Frazier, 2B
2. Starling Marte, CF
3. Corey Dickerson, LF
4. Josh Bell, 1B
5. Francisco Cervelli, C
6. Colin Moran, 3B
7. Lonnie Chisenhall, RF
8. Erik Gonzalez, SS

Rotation and closer:
1. Jameson Taillon, RHP
2. Chris Archer, RHP
3. Trevor Williams, RHP
4. Joe Musgrove, RHP
5. Jordan Lyles, RHP
Closer: Felipe Vazquez, LHP

REDS
Lineup:
1. Jesse Winker, LF
2. Jose Peraza, SS
3. Joey Votto, 1B
4. Eugenio Suarez, 3B
5. Scooter Gennett, 2B
6. Yasiel Puig, RF
7. Scott Schebler, CF
8. Tucker Barnhart, C

Rotation and closer:
1. Sonny Gray, RHP
2. Tanner Roark, RHP
3. Alex Wood, LHP
4. Luis Castillo, RHP
5. Anthony DeSclafani, RHP
Closer: Raisel Iglesias, RHP

NATIONAL LEAGUE WEST

D-BACKS
Lineup:
1. Ketel Marte, CF
2. Eduardo Escobar, 3B
3. David Peralta, LF
4. Steven Souza Jr., RF
5. Jake Lamb, 1B
6. Wilmer Flores, 2B
7. Nick Ahmed, SS
8. Alex Avila, C

Rotation and closer:
1. Zack Greinke, RHP
2. Robbie Ray, LHP
3. Zack Godley, RHP
4. Luke Weaver, RHP
5. Merrill Kelly, RHP
Closer: Archie Bradley, RHP

DODGERS
Lineup:
1. A.J. Pollock, CF
2. Corey Seager, SS
3. Justin Turner, 3B
4. Cody Bellinger, RF
5. Max Muncy, 1B
6. Chris Taylor, 2B
7. Joc Pederson, LF
8. Austin Barnes, C

Rotation and closer:
1. Clayton Kershaw, LHP
2. Walker Buehler, RHP
3. Hyun-Jin Ryu, LHP
4. Rich Hill, LHP
5. Kenta Maeda, RHP
Closer: Kenley Jansen, RHP

GIANTS
Lineup:
1. Steven Duggar, CF
2. Joe Panik, 2B
3. Buster Posey, C
4. Brandon Belt, 1B
5. Evan Longoria, 3B
6. Brandon Crawford, SS
7. Gerardo Parra, LF
8. Mac Williamson, RF

Rotation and closer:
1. Madison Bumgarner, LHP
2. Derek Holland, LHP
3. Dereck Rodriguez, RHP
4. Drew Pomeranz, LHP
5. Jeff Samardzija, RHP
Closer: Will Smith, LHP

PADRES
Lineup:
1. Manuel Margot, CF
2. Luis Urias, SS
3. Eric Hosmer, 1B
4. Franmil Reyes, RF
5. Wil Myers, LF
6. Ian Kinsler, 2B
7. Austin Hedges, C
8. Ty France, 3B

Rotation and closer:
1. Joey Lucchesi, LHP
2. Eric Lauer, LHP
3. Robbie Erlin, LHP
4. Bryan Mitchell, RHP
5. Matt Strahm, LHP
Closer: Kirby Yates, RHP

ROCKIES
Lineup:
1. Charlie Blackmon, LF
2. David Dahl, RF
3. Nolan Arenado, 3B
4. Trevor Story, SS
5. Daniel Murphy, 1B
6. Ian Desmond, CF
7. Ryan McMahon, 2B
8. Chris Iannetta, C

Rotation and closer:
1. Kyle Freeland, LHP
2. German Marquez, RHP
3. Tyler Anderson, LHP
4. Jon Gray, RHP
5. Chad Bettis, RHP
Closer: Wade Davis, RHP

Brault tweaks delivery in effort to be 5th starter

MLB.com @adamdberry

BRADENTON, Fla. -- Last month, Steven Brault joked that he's never experienced the Spring Training that he hears other players talk about -- the relaxed camp where they just prepare for the season. Brault has always had to worry about winning a job.

The left-hander is once again competing for a spot on the Pirates' Opening Day roster. He's up for the fifth spot in the rotation, as are right-handers Jordan Lyles and Nick Kingham. Brault could be a candidate for the bullpen, although the Bucs added left-handed options this winter in Francisco Liriano and Tyler Lyons.

BRADENTON, Fla. -- Last month, Steven Brault joked that he's never experienced the Spring Training that he hears other players talk about -- the relaxed camp where they just prepare for the season. Brault has always had to worry about winning a job.

The left-hander is once again competing for a spot on the Pirates' Opening Day roster. He's up for the fifth spot in the rotation, as are right-handers Jordan Lyles and Nick Kingham. Brault could be a candidate for the bullpen, although the Bucs added left-handed options this winter in Francisco Liriano and Tyler Lyons.

:: Spring Training coverage presented by Camping World ::

In that regard, this spring is nothing new for Brault. But there is something different. He made physical changes, tweaking his delivery in an effort to improve his command, and adopted a new mentality. In previous years, he'd say he wanted to force management to make a tough decision. Now?

"I want to make it an easy decision for them," Brault said. "I want to be the clear choice to be the starter going into the season."

To that end, Brault implemented a year-round throwing program -- he even played catch during a two-week trip to New Zealand over the offseason -- and modified his mechanics. The most noticeable change is a higher arm slot, but Brault also shortened his stride and his arm path.

"This year I actually wanted to work on stuff because my command was shoddy last year," Brault said. "I wanted to make sure that I actually worked throughout the offseason to get rid of that instead of just working to get ready for the season."

Brault promised that his changes would be "visually evident," and that was indeed the case as he took the mound to throw a bullpen session during Friday's workout at Pirate City. There's a theme to those tweaks: shorter, simpler.

"If you want to simplify," Brault said, "shorten things."

Tweet from @adamdberry: Bullpen time. Taillon, Kela, Liriano and Brault. pic.twitter.com/0obtMf2RpH

Brault wants his delivery to be more repeatable and consistent, believing his command will improve as a result. Brault led the Pirates with 57 walks last season while posting a 4.61 ERA and a 1.54 WHIP in 91 2/3 innings over 45 appearances. He was pleased on Friday with his fastball command, the foundation for any pitcher.

Pitching coach Ray Searage said Brault's adjustments were slight but "very significant" and also came away encouraged by his progress thus far.

"I only see positive things with Steven right now," Searage said. "I'm not going to fix anything that ain't broken. I'm going to let him go do his job. He's got a good handle on it. He's in a good place right now, and I don't want to do anything to disrupt that."

Around the horn
• The Pirates introduced a new drill to the standard pitchers' fielding practice this spring. With a group of pitchers positioned at shortstop, a coach swats tennis balls and racquetballs that each pitcher must field barehanded. The Pirates have used the drill in the Minors, viewing it as a way to enhance their pitchers' athleticism, agility and hand-eye coordination. As a bonus, pitchers seem to enjoy it.

Tweet from @adamdberry: A different look at PFP ��� pitchers at shortstop barehanding tennis balls and racquetballs. pic.twitter.com/LZrVwnOYCJ

Pirates pitchers posted a .915 fielding percentage last season, second worst in the Majors, and they ranked 26th with minus-6 Defensive Runs Saved.

"We need a lot of work off the mound fielding our position," manager Clint Hurdle said. "We were 29th out of 30 clubs, so there's all kinds of opportunities to improve categorically whether it be fielding, whether it be throwing, whether it be holding runners, whether it be pickoffs, so there's a lot of work to be done this spring."

• Third baseman Ke'Bryan Hayes, the Pirates' No. 2 prospect according to MLB Pipeline, reported early for Spring Training on Friday. So did non-roster invitee Nick Franklin, a switch-hitting super-utility man looking to win a spot on the Opening Day roster after playing only one game for the Brewers last season.

"He's healthy. He's been challenged physically," Hurdle said of Franklin. "It's a guy that we've actually had conversation about maybe at different points in time the last couple seasons. ... He's looking for a fresh start. The defensive versatility could help us. The ability to hit has been one of his strengths that's shown up at times. So we'll see where he can take this opportunity."

• Fifteen pitchers threw bullpen sessions during Friday's workout: Trevor Williams, Jameson Taillon, Felipe Vazquez, Keone Kela, Kingham, Lyles, Kyle Crick, Clay Holmes, Brandon Maurer, Liriano, Aaron Slegers, Mitch Keller, Michael Feliz, JT Brubaker and Brault.

• Entercom on Friday announced the new broadcast team for the Pirates' pregame and postgame coverage on flagship station KDKA-FM. Joining former Mariners general manager Jack Zduriencik in the broadcast booth will be Dan Zangrilli, who previously held the host role from 2012-16, and longtime producer Kraig Riley.

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

Pittsburgh Pirates, Steven Brault

Newman on SS competition: 'I'm ready for it'

Pirates prospect sees last season's shaky debut as learning experience
MLB.com @adamdberry

BRADENTON, Fla. -- The Pirates don't think they saw the real Kevin Newman late last season.

It wasn't just Newman's .209 batting average that seemed out of character, although it was well below his career .288 mark in the Minors. Newman said he lost 15 pounds over the course of the Triple-A season, so by the time he debuted in Pittsburgh on Aug. 16, he was trying to play at the game's highest level without his usual strength and speed.

BRADENTON, Fla. -- The Pirates don't think they saw the real Kevin Newman late last season.

It wasn't just Newman's .209 batting average that seemed out of character, although it was well below his car