Expect Kang to Get Time at Shortstop; Don’t Expect Mercer to Lose His Job

Day two of the pitchers and catchers portion of Spring Training is in the books. These are workout days, and nothing is really going on of great importance on the field. Most of the discussions with Clint Hurdle at the end of the day are either reviewing what happened the previous year with specific players, or talking about the role the new guys will play. I took a lot of photos today, which can be found here. As for Hurdle’s comments, here are the highlights, with the video below.

**Hurdle talked about how the Pirates got to the point where they became a good fastball hitting team. As a result, they’ve seen fewer fastballs from opposing teams. “It goes by the numbers. People stop throwing you fastballs for a reason.” The Pirates saw 34% fastballs last year, which was 22nd in the majors. Only three NL teams saw fewer fastballs.

**For the second day in a row, Hurdle was asked about Jung-ho Kang. This time around he added a very important note about Jordy Mercer: “We had a shortstop that played very well last year in Jordy Mercer.” If you’re thinking Kang has a shot to win the shortstop job, then you’re ignoring how much the Pirates like Mercer. Most of the arguments in favor of Kang only consider his offense, which means those arguments are also ignoring how much the Pirates favor defense at shortstop. The only way I see Mercer losing the shortstop job is if his defense seriously declines from last year, or if Kang’s defense is much better than advertised.

**Hurdle recapped what went well for Josh Harrison last year. He noted that Harrison could still move around the field to refresh. As I pointed out in my depth charts earlier in the week, that will probably depend on how well Kang is playing, since there aren’t many other options who can play third base if Harrison goes to another position.

**Hurdle declined to go into depth about Tyler Glasnow, noting that it was too early in the process to give that type of opinion. He did say that entrance interviews will start on Monday.

**For Hurdle’s comments on Francisco Cervelli, check out my video feature on Cervelli.