Shortly after the Pirates' final Spring Training game, manager Clint Hurdle revealed that Adam Frazier will lead off and serve as Pittsburgh's designated hitter in the Bucs' Opening Day matchup with the Tigers on Friday at Comerica Park.Hurdle took it a step further and announced Pittsburgh's entire expected Opening Day
Shortly after the Pirates' final Spring Training game, manager Clint Hurdle revealed that Adam Frazier will lead off and serve as Pittsburgh's designated hitter in the Bucs' Opening Day matchup with the Tigers on Friday at Comerica Park.
Hurdle took it a step further and announced Pittsburgh's entire expected Opening Day lineup:
Adam Frazier, DH
Josh Harrison, 2B
Gregory Polanco, RF
Josh Bell, 1B
Corey Dickerson, LF
Starling Marte, CF
Francisco Cervelli, C
Colin Moran, 3B
Jordy Mercer, SS
That lineup may change for the Pirates' second and third games in Detroit, and it will certainly have a different look when the Bucs return to National League rules on Monday. At that point, Pittsburgh could bump Harrison into the leadoff spot and move Marte up in the order, likely batting him second or third.
But this is how the Pirates will line up on Thursday behind Opening Day starter Ivan Nova, and Hurdle is pleased with the depth of the group, especially after a number of strong Spring Training performances. Cervelli batted .405 with four home runs and four doubles. Moran made a strong first impression, batting .362 in Grapefruit League play. Marte hit .340 and stole seven bases, Polanco posted a .978 OPS and Frazier hit .353 with more walks (six) than strikeouts (four).
The Pirates were one of the Majors' least productive offensive clubs last season, ranking 28th in runs and OPS, but they expect more this year.
"We have been very steadfast in what we're trying to do offensively, no matter who's on the mound," Hurdle said. "We're not going to be predictable. We're counting on the tandem of right and left[-handed hitters]. There's power. There's some usable speed. There's some guys we can hit-and-run with. Our baserunning was a focus point; I thought that got better throughout the spring. The lineup is lengthened, I believe, in a positive way."
The Indians claimed left-handed reliever Jack Leathersich off waivers and took back Rule 5 Draft pick Jordan Milbrath from the Pirates. Leathersich, one of Pittsburgh's first Spring Training roster cuts, was recently waived by the Bucs. When Pittsburgh decided he would not crack the Opening Day roster, Milbrath had to be offered back to Cleveland, his former team, after clearing waivers.
The Pirates now have three open spots on their 40-man roster. That flexibility would make it easier to sign players or claim them off waivers over the next few days as clubs shuffle players to set their Opening Day rosters.
"We'll always look for opportunities to make the club better. That is a possibility," general manager Neal Huntington said Monday. "At the same time, we like this group. We'll take something that we feel makes us a better 25-man roster or makes us better organizationally to do that."
Around the horn
• Right-hander Jameson Taillon wrapped up a strong spring by striking out four Phillies and allowing only two hits over three scoreless innings in a 5-5 tie. His next outing will be Monday in the Bucs' home opener at PNC Park.
"Everything felt good. I'm healthy. I'm ready to go," Taillon said. "I feel like my spring didn't start until I pitched in a game, and I feel like my season won't be real until I pitch in a game. … I definitely feel physically like I'm where I need to be. Pitch execution's good. Delivery feels good. Really in a pretty good spot."
• Closer Felipe Rivero concluded his up-and-down spring on a high note. Rivero worked a perfect fourth inning, inducing groundouts from Carlos Santana and Odubel Herrera before striking out Rhys Hoskins.
• Right-hander Chad Kuhl struggled in his final tune-up outing before his first regular-season start Sunday in Detroit. Pitching in relief, Kuhl allowed four runs on four hits and two walks while striking out one and recording two outs in the fifth inning.
The Pirates left Florida on Tuesday and flew north to Detroit to prepare for their season-opening series against the Tigers. Opening Day is Thursday, when Nova will take the mound against Detroit right-hander Jordan Zimmermann at 1:10 p.m. ET, live on MLB.TV.
Adam Berry has covered the Pirates for MLB.com since 2015. Follow him on Twitter and Facebook and read his blog.