BRADENTON, Fla. — One of the biggest questions facing the Pittsburgh Pirates coming into spring training was who would be the primary second baseman to begin the season.
The Pirates may not have an answer by next Thursday when they open the regular season against the Reds in Cincinnati. General manager Ben Cherington said Friday the Pirates could go with a second baseman-by-committee approach.
Rodolfo Castro entered spring training as the presumptive favorite in a competition with rookie Ji-Hwan Bae and Tucapita Marcano. The Pirates added Mark Mathias to the mix earlier this month when they acquired him from the Texas Rangers in a trade.
Cherington mentioned all four of those players along with veteran infielder Chris Owings, who is in camp on a minor-league contract.
“We feel really good that we have a number of options at second base, some of whom may start the year in Triple-A and may force themselves up at some point,” Cherington said. “We don’t think the competition ends on Tuesday (the day spring training). It’s gonna keep going.
“We’re gonna start the year with a certain roster. It doesn’t mean it can’t change, but we’ve had a number of guys get playing time there this spring. It would be some combination of guys to start the year in terms of the playing time. We feel really good about that group. We feel like inside that group one or more will step up and, as the season goes on, take hold of more of the playing time. Certainly a lot of talent inside that group. We see good improvement from a number of them.
Castro is 11 for 46 (.239) with one double and two home runs this spring but also has 17 strikeouts and only one walk. Bae is hitting .250 (9 for 36) with a double, two walks and 10 strikeouts. Marcano is just 4 for 27 (.148), though he has drawn five walks.
If the Pirates based their decision strictly on Grapefruit League performance, prospect Nick Gonzales would likely be the opening-day second baseman. The Pirates’ first-round draft pick in 2020 is hitting .391 (9 for 23) with a homer.