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First Week of Spring Roundup

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Detroit Tigers v Pittsburgh Pirates Photo by Douglas P. DeFelice/Getty Images

The Pittsburgh Pirates are very nearly through their first week of Spring Training games. The club is 3-3, but as we know, ST records mean nothing. But perhaps Pirates’ fans can take some solace in the fact that, at the moment, their team is an average ball club. Hurray!

But what’s been going in Bradenton?

  • Hello, Andrew

The Pirates and Phillies met up Friday afternoon in Clearwater, meaning Pittsburgh got to chum it up with longtime friend Andrew McCutchen. While it’s true that there aren’t many players still hanging around from the McCutchen days, I still think it’s fun to see our old pal on the same field as the Pirates. He went 1-for-3 with an RBI, a run scored, and two strikeouts.

  • Kevin Newman is a new man

Alright, pun aside, Newman’s been good through severely limited time. He’s only had six at-bats but controls a .667 average. As Rob Biertempfel notes at The Athletic, Newman has reached base in seven of his first nine plate appearances. That’s a good sign, given his 54 wRC+ over the course of the shortened 2020 season.

  • Todd Frazier is a home run champ

I’m not actually going to get carried away and think that former Reds’ third baseman Todd Frazier is going to become some sort of home run king in his second life. Frazier, whose homer total maxed out in 2016 with the White Sox when he blasted 40 bombs, has hit two already in eight at-bats. That doesn’t mean a ton, sure, but it’s nice to see, particularly because he’s likely going to be a bat off the bench (or if the league comes to its sense, a designated hitter).

  • Gregory Polanco is a run-producing machine

If Frazier is the home run champion, then Polanco is the RBI champion. Everybody wants to see Polanco finally bounce back in some meaningful way and avoid season-shortening/ending injury (if for no other reason than to see him shipped off at the deadline for assets). Through four games (11 at-bats), Polanco has contributed eight RBIs, far and away the highest total on the team. The lefty had a 3-for-3 showing against the Yankees, which included a home run and three RBIs.

  • Naming rights

Some don’t care, some probably do. Since its inception, the ballpark at which the Pirates play has been known as PNC Park. With the contract set to expire, many wondered what might the stadium end up being called. Those who care about these types of things will likely be happy to know that the park will hold the name PNC Park for the next decade. That’s fortunate, especially considering it could’ve ended up like American Family Field in Milwaukee or Guaranteed Rate Field in Chicago. I shudder just thinking about it. Yeah, PNC is corporate naming and is probably not as cool as “Yankee Stadium,” but it’s a lot better than the potential alternative.