Pirates first baseman/outfielder Steve Pearce is now just outfielder Steve Pearce. With Adam LaRoche at first base, the Pirates wanted to get Pearce’s bat into the major league lineup this year, so they have converted Pearce into a full-time outfielder.
"We’ve asked too much of him already to ask him to try to develop at two positions and make the club, so we’re going to simplify the process for him," (Pirates general manager Neal) Huntington said. "He’s more accomplished at first, so we’re going to allow him to focus on the outfield for the time being. Primarily, he’ll play right."
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"We don’t want young players sitting on the bench. That’s not in their best developmental interest," Huntington said. "If there’s regular opportunity for regular at-bats for any of the young players, then it makes sense for them to be on our club. If not, then it makes sense for them to be in the minor leagues."
Pearce has slightly below-average speed and his instincts in the outfield are still raw, so it should take him some time to adapt to his new position. The Pirates are an extreme long shot to contend in the National League Central this year, though, so the Pirates will have plenty of time to be patient with the development of Pearce’s fielding skills. The Pirates also want to continue to challenge Pearce as a hitter. He turns 25 next month and hit .334/.394/622 in 551 plate appearances last year in his time with high Class A Lynchburg, Double-A Altoona and Triple-A Indianapolis before a September callup to Pittsburgh.