Pedro Alvarez is not at Pirates’ minicamp. He is not required to be. But maybe he should be?

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Rob Biertempfel of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review has a story about Pirates’ minicamp. And Pedro Alvarez’s absence therefrom. Which is totally cool per the collective bargaining agreement because Alvarez is on the 40-man and guys on the 40-man are not required to attend minicamps.

But Alvarez is also in a unique situation in which his ineptness at third base required him to move to first base last August, and a foot injury kept him from actually playing first base. Since the Pirates are expecting him to be their everyday first baseman this season, he could use all the time he can get to figure out the position. But GM Neal Huntington knows he can’t force Alvarez to come and get the extra work:

“We open the facility (because) we want as many guys as possible to come together and get ready to go because we’re not too far away from spring training,” Huntington said. “The union, obviously, has been very aggressive in (its) right to protect the players from having to work too hard in January and be under club control in January. We get that.

“Pedro had the complete option to come or not. We expect him to be ready to go on the first day of spring training and to get after it.”

I don’t think it’s crazy for those comments to be interpreted as “Jesus, we sure wish Pedro had his butt down here learning first base, but I suppose I can’t say that.” And man, I would love to hear Huntington’s off-the-record comments about all of that.

If I were Alvarez, I would first say “oh my God, how did I become Pedro Alvarez?!” But then I would probably say to myself “you know, it may be a good idea to be in minicamp, even if I don’t have to be.”

Nelson Cruz hits 400th career home run

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Twins DH Nelson Cruz hit his 400th career home run, a solo home run in the fourth inning of Sunday’s game against the Royals. The blast padded the Twins’ lead to 8-6, and was also No. 40 on the season for Cruz.

Cruz, 39, is the 57th member of the 400-homer club. He was previously tied with Andres Galarraga and Al Kaline at 399. Cruz has hit 163 of his homers with the Mariners, 157 with the Rangers, and 40 each with the Orioles and Twins.

Cruz entered Sunday batting .300/.383/.624 with 104 RBI in 500 plate appearances. Pretty good production for the Twins from a slugger on a one-year, $14.3 million contract. The Twins hold a $12 million club option for 2020 as well.