The Pirates surrendered the third-fewest runs in baseball last year, when center fielder Andrew McCutchen and left fielder Starling Marte lined up deeper than most at their respective positions, but the data-driven Bucs are experimenting with a shallower outfield alignment this season in hopes of allowing even less scoring. “Reviewing the numbers last year, there was so much collateral damage done in front of us last year — balls that fell in, extra bases that were taken by guys trying to get to balls,” manager Clint Hurdle said (via Adam Berry of MLB.com). “It was glaringly apparent that we could make an adjustment on our end, especially with the athleticism we have with our outfielders, and change the dynamic of what’s gone on as far as run prevention goes,” he continued. Both McCutchen and Marte have taken to the changes, according to Hurdle. “You give them the numbers, you show them the charts, you show them where damage is done or not done. They’re really good about understanding and trusting.”
More from around the majors:
- Robinson Chirinos’ fractured forearm put the Rangers’ already below-average catcher situation in an even worse position than it was in previously, though they have not engaged in any recent discussions with the Brewers about Jonathan Lucroy, reports Jon Heyman of MLB Network (Twitter link). The Rangers have been linked to the Brewers as a potential trade partner for Lucroy since the offseason. General manager Jon Daniels said the team did its “due diligence” on outside options in the aftermath of Chirinos’ Saturday night injury, but not for a “major” addition, per T.R. Sullivan of MLB.com.
- Rays ace Chris Archer has stumbled out of the gate with a a 7.20 ERA in his first two starts this year while experiencing a dip in velocity, but he feels fine and doesn’t believe concern is warranted. “I’ve seen some headlines, and it’s comical, “because I was throwing 92-96 (mph) last game instead of 94-97, and it’s a big deal,” he said (via Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times). “My slider was 85-88 instead of 86-90 and it’s a big deal. And I don’t know why. I think people just need something to talk about, something to write about, something to justify me not having the greatest start.”
- The Red Sox’s Class-A team, Salem, boasts the most talented roster in the minor leagues, Jim Callis of MLB.com opines in a piece highlighting the minors’ premier clubs. Boston has three of MLBPipeline.com’s 25 best prospects in Salem – second baseman Yoan Moncada (No. 6), third baseman Rafael Devers (No. 16) and outfielder Andrew Benintendi (No. 24) – as well as breakout candidates in righty Travis Lakins, middle infielder Mauricio Dubon and first baseman Nick Longhi, Callis writes.
- Dodgers catcher Yasmani Grandal and second baseman Howie Kendrick have completed their injury rehab assignments and should be active for the team’s home opener Tuesday, according to Bill Plunkett of the Orange County Register. The Dodgers will have to make a couple roster moves with both coming back, as Plunkett notes, putting Austin Barnes’ spot in jeopardy. On whether the Dodgers would keep Barnes on the roster, thus giving them three catchers, manager Dave Roberts said, “We’re kind of playing with some different scenarios.”