Sunday, January 22, 2006

The Centers of Pittsburgh's Attention

Rookie Nate McLouth, 25, grabbed plenty of headlines when he hit 5 HRs in 109 ABs for the Pittsburgh Pirates in '05, including three in consecutive games. But his production spike appears to be just that -- a spike -- and a bit of a fluke, and likely no harbinger of things to come. Though McLouth has been developed as a center fielder, the Buc's CF post will go to fellow rookie Chris Duffy, who is expected to nail down the job in spring training. Duffy, who batted .341 in 126 ABs last year and whose meteoric ascension has made possible the conclusion of the Tike Redman experiment, will be penciled in as leadoff hitter for the much-improved '06 Pirates. Meanwhile the Pirates will continue to look for a spot for McLouth.