Shaping Up

Alvarez shedding pounds before spring





PITTSBURGH—The fast track for Pedro Alvarez, the Pirates' top prospect, should have him arriving at PNC Park by early summer.

When that happens, though, expect to see significantly less of him.

Alvarez has lost 10 pounds off his thick 6-foot-3 frame—now down to 225 pounds—as part of a two-month boot-camp style workout regimen at the Athletes Performance Institute in Tempe, Ariz. It began in early November and extended into mid-January, when he left to attend Major League Baseball's development camp along with righthanders Brad Lincoln and Daniel McCutchen. It was early to bed, up at 6 a.m., two robust workouts a day and strict monitoring of meals.

"I'm someone who wants to play this game for a long time, someone who's really passionate about it, someone who cares enough to always try the best they can," said Alvarez, the second overall pick out of Vanderbilt in 2008. "I decided to do this, and I love it. I love some of the results I'm getting."

The priority, he said, was the added muscle and improved agility, which could help him overcome lingering forecasts that he will have to move from third base to first base.

"To be honest, I'm not so concerned about weight loss," Alvarez said. "It's like reading statistics. It doesn't tell everything. I want to be at a point where I feel good, where I still have my power, where I can move better, and where I can keep that going over a full season."

Alvarez, who will turn 23 in February, is expected to make his Triple-A debut with Indianapolis coming out of spring training. From there, the Pirates project that he could reach Pittsburgh by May or June.

In his first professional season last year, he batted .288/.378/.535 with 27 home runs and 95 RBIs between high Class A Lynchburg and Double-A Altoona. He then hit five home runs for the United States' winning effort in the World Cup in Europe.

TREASURE TROVE

• The Pirates named Jim Benedict their minor league pitching coordinator, and former major leaguer Steve Lombardozzi their fielding coordinator. Benedict previously held that post with the Dodgers and Expos.

• Ronald Uviedo, a 23-year-old righthander on the 40-man roster, will switch from starting to relief after going 5-6, 3.35 last season for Lynchburg. Management feels that is the best fit for his wiry frame and fastball-slider repertoire.