PITTSBURGH - SEPTEMBER 23: Pedro Ciriaco #16 of the Pittsburgh Pirates turns a double play against the St Louis Cardinals during the game on September 23 2010 at PNC Park in Pittsburgh Pennsylvania. (Photo by Jared Wickerham/Getty Images)
With Clint Hurdle mentioning that Pedro Ciriaco (pictured, above) was going to get some work in center, does this all but assure that Ciriaco is, by far, the leader for a bench spot right now? Seems that at this point in spring, they aren't moving you around, asking you to play another position and working with you there if they don't see something they really like in terms of keeping you around. If Ciriaco does make an appearance in center, that would mean he could be used at second, short, third and in center moving forward -- and that position flexibility might just offset what he doesn't give you with the bat.
I realize the idea of using Ciriaco as an outfielder is very much in the beta stage, but it would be interesting if he could play there. The ability to play several infield positions and center was supposed to be Corey Wimberly's calling card, but it looks like the Pirates might like Ciriaco to have it instead. That's fine with me, since Ciriaco probably wouldn't be substantially worse than Wimberly with the bat and appears to be much better with the glove.
C/OF Ryan Doumit
IF Pedro Ciriaco
That's my guess right now. Doumit and Diaz/Jones are locks. I don't think the Pirates will carry a third catcher; it seems wasteful, and it isn't like anything about Jason Jaramillo or Dusty Brown's pedigrees inspire confidence anyway. Ciriaco's defensive ability wins him a job. As someone pointed out recently, the Pirates under Neal Huntington have kept three straight Rule 5 picks out of Spring Training, so Rodriguez stays (and he should, given his versatility and offensive ability).
As for Atkins, Andy Marte has hit much better than this Spring, and so has John Bowker. But Atkins' right-handedness and ability to play third (which I don't think should matter much, given that Ciriaco and Rodriguez can both play there, as can Neil Walker) give him the edge over Bowker, and his (Atkins') history with Clint Hurdle gives him the edge over Marte. Steve Pearce's having an option gives everyone an edge over Steve Pearce. I hope I'm wrong about Atkins - I'd much rather see Bowker (who is out of options) or even Marte.