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Huntington denies rumors about Pirates' interest in acquiring first baseman

Jared Wickerham

Notes from Neal Huntington’s Sunday meeting with the press:

-P- As Charlie posted earlier, Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe is reporting that the Pirates are still interested in acquiring a first baseman. This afternoon, Neal Huntington dismissed the report:

"I typically hate to comment on any specific rumor, but it sounds like somebody, somewhere is trying to create a market," Huntington said.

-P- During this afternoon’s pregame presser, Clint Hurdle was asked if he thought Starling Marte had been "miscast" as a leadoff hitter. His response was somewhat ambiguous and noncommittal.

"I know where I’ve liked him all along, and I’m not going to share that with you," Hurdle said.

Neal Huntington was asked if the organization always projected Marte as a leadoff hitter and whether things were evolving in that regard.

He’s probably not the modern-day, prototypical leadoff hitter with a high walk rate. He’s got power. When’s he’s swinging the bat like he is capable of, his on base is going to be fairly high. Sometimes you put your lineup together based on how you can win that night’s game. If you don’t have the prototypical four-hole hitter, you put somebody in the four hole. If you don’t have the prototypical leadoff hitter, you put somebody in the leadoff spot that you feel is best. Clint does a great job of that.

Marte may not stay in the leadoff spot. He may go back to the leadoff.

There’s an accepted structure of how you put a lineup together from 20 years ago. And then there is an evolving structure about how you put a lineup together. Then you have the reality of do you have the pieces? Do you have the parts to put the guys in the right spot in the lineup? When you don’t, you put the best lineup together that you think gives you best chance to win.

My immediate reaction to both Hurdle and Huntington's comments is that the Pirates don't see Marte as a future number one hitter. There has been some talk of Gregory Polanco possibly filling that role when he arrives.

Moreover, perhaps Huntington's comments hint to McCutchen's future spot in the order, as well. According to the "evolving structure" of lineup construction, McCutchen is miscast as the third hitter. He is better suited for the number two or cleanup. My guess is that when the Pirates have the right pieces in place, Polanco will leadoff, with McCutchen moving to the two spot and Marte to three (or five).