For most of this new season, primary shortstop Kevin Newman has been the whipping boy for the Pittsburgh Pirates. Everyone complained about his bat, or lack thereof. As for defense, yeah, there were the two nearly back-to-back errors in Saturday’s embarrassing 21-0 loss to the Cubs. When it was announced that Newms had a left groin pull that would have him out for three to five weeks, this was basically the reaction.
But who plays now? Last night, Diego Castillo was the shortstop in the Bucs’ 3-1 loss to the Brewers. He’s done well at second base and played a ton of games at SS throughout his pro career, so it wasn’t too much of a stretch to move him over a few feet.
Then there’s Ke’Bryan Hayes, who played SS for a couple of innings in Tuesday’s game, also against the Brewers. He had never played the position before, but there was talk in spring training about getting him in there.
Of course, there’s the 6’7” elephant in the room—or rather at Indianapolis. Pirates fans were ticked when Oneil Cruz wasn’t brought up after a solid spring training and now see Newman’s injury as the perfect opportunity to bring Cruz up.
Look, Cruz will be brought up sooner or later, but not until Derek Shelton has tried out everyone he has on hand now. Michael Chavis and Josh VanMeter play adequate second base, so using Castillo at short until Newman returns is probably the best option in Shelty’s mind. Cruz’s bat has been on the cool side at Indy, with his slash line at .190/.271/.317, so it’s not like the Bucs’ firepower would dramatically increase if he were brought up.
I’d also add that it’s April. This is the time to work out kinks, and right now, the unsteady starting pitching is a far bigger issue than who plays shortstop in Pirates World for the next few weeks.