Friday, March 12, 2010

Pirates Jeff Clement, Steve Pearce Starting Slowly

The competition for the Pirates starting first baseman's job has begun with Jeff Clement and Steve Pearce neck and neck statistically, and the winner is: Pedro Alvarez!

Yes, you read that right, unlikely though it may be, as preliminary, unofficial rumblings coming out of Grapefruit League camp indicate the possibility of Alvarez moving across the diamond from his natural position at third base if either Clement or Pearce don't kick it into gear by the end of May, perhaps sooner.

Of course, the very idea is still highly speculative at this point, but a potential problem lies primarily with the performance of Clement and Pearce, who once again are starting out slowly.

With fewer than two dozen at-bats between them so far, it's much to early to be drawing conclusions, but the fact remains that Clement is hitting .125 and Pearce .133. The small sample is not especially significant, but their track record is, as both have relatively stellar minor league stats but repeatedly have fallen short at the major league level.

The job is still Clements' to lose, but so far neither he nor Pearce can claim it. The possibility of moving Alverez to first base hinges not only on Clements' and Pearce's continued failure, but on third baseman Andy LaRoche, who also has started out slowly despite a six RBI day.

If LaRoche begins to play up to his potential, he could hold onto the third base job, forcing Alvarez to be considered as a replacement for either Clement or Pearce.

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