First base is likely the Pittsburgh Pirates’ most questionable position this spring, and GM Neal Huntington failed to improve it during the offseason. The Pirates have expressed that they have faith in Gaby Sanchez as an every day first baseman, but there appears to be some competition with Andrew Lambo, Matt Hague and Chris McGuiness.
In five games this spring, Sanchez has a .455/.538/.727 line with four RBIs, but was sidelined for a few games with a knee injury. While Sanchez could be the Pirates’ every day starter, a platoon situation is the most likely scenario.
Sanchez did work over the offseason to lose weight and get in better shape, but struggles of the past few years make him a questionable every day player.
Going into spring training, Lambo seemed like the most likely platoon candidate at first with Sanchez. He hit 32 home runs and slugged .574 in 120 games between Double-A and Triple-A last season. Those numbers have the Pirates hoping that Lambo could handle the defensive responsibilities.
However, he is off to a sluggish start and has an unimpressive .100/.182/.100 line. This doesn’t bode well for the 24-year-old who has Hague and McGuiness on his tail.
Hague, who was known as the hit collector during the 2012 spring campaign, came into spring training hoping to win the job. So far he has a .250/.308/.250 line and three RBIs. Last season in AAA the 28-year-old hit .385 with eight homers in 142 games.
The downfall with Hague is that he struggles against right handers.
McGuiness is having the best spring training of all the potential candidates and is turning manager Clint Hurdle’s head. He has a .400/.471/.533 line with three RBIs.
The lefty hitting first baseman is panning out nicely this spring. Hurdle is very impressed with the 25-year-old. Some of his best hits have came off lefties, which does not make him the best platoon candidate with Sanchez considering he is better against leftys.
Sanchez struggles against righties, batting just .200 in his year and a half tenure in Pittsburgh. Last season he batted .333 against southpaws but Sanchez argues the low average against right handers comes later in games after he faced a left handed starter.
The Pirates will likely start the season with Sanchez as the lone starter but as he fails it will become a platoon situation for either Lambo or McGuiness.
McGuiness looks like the candidate with the most potential. However, Lambo could still beat out McGuiness for the job because he can play right field and the potential power he exhibits, but he needs to start hitting in April or early May to remain a lock in Pittsburgh.
Either way McGuiness looks to make the Pirates decision a tough one and if Lambo faulters he could step in.
When the team heads north in a few weeks look for some sort of Lambo-McGuiness-Sanchez tandem on the roster. All three are bound to make an appearance at some point through out the season.
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