Pirates sticking with struggling Pedro Alvarez at third base

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Pedro Alvarez hit .191 in 74 games for the Pirates last season, wasn’t much better in 35 games back at Triple-A, and has seen his struggles carry over this spring, but the Pirates aren’t giving up on the 25-year-old former No. 2 overall pick as their starting third baseman.

General manager Neal Huntington told Rob Biertempfel of the Pittsburgh Tribune Review that “the rumors of him starting at Triple-A have never come from the Pirates” and is not something the team is considering.

By trading for Casey McGehee the Pirates brought in a potential alternative to Alvarez at third base, although McGehee is coming off a tremendously disappointing season himself. Alvarez is a left-handed hitter and McGehee is a right-handed hitter, so Huntington did say that platooning them early in the season is an option for manager Clint Hurdle and from there it’s easy to see the playing time shift based on production.

Either way, Alvarez’s stock has plummeted since the Pirates picked him second overall and Baseball America twice ranked him as a top-15 prospect in 2009 and 2010, as the combination of strikeouts, poor defense, and injuries repeatedly set him back. Tremendous raw power is what’s keeping the Pirates invested.

Brandon Belt, Jaime Barrios set new modern record with 21-pitch at-bat

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Angels starter Jaime Barrios and Giants first baseman Brandon Belt set a new modern record with a 21-pitch at-bat in the first inning of Sunday afternoon’s game in Anaheim. Belt fell behind 1-2 and mostly kept fouling pitches off. The count ran full on the ninth pitch and Belt would foul off 11 more pitches before finally lining out to right field.

As Henry Schulman of the San Francisco Chronicle notes, the previous record was set on June 26, 1998 when the Indians’ Bartolo Colon and the Astros’ Ricky Gutierrez battled for 20 pitches. Gutierrez eventually struck out.