Rounding the bases with recent notes:
FIRST BASE: ESPN first reported that the Pirates plan to interview Andy Barkett, currently in his first year as assistant hitting coach for the Boston Red Sox.
The 45-year-old managed at the Pirates AAA Indianapolis team in 2017.
The Post-Gazette reported that he Pirates scored 4.3 runs per game, tied for eighth in the National League, and 13th in home runs. Meanwhile, Boston led MLB with 5.4 runs scored per game. The P-G cited Barkett and hitting coach Tim Hyers for their work with Mookie Betts, J.D. Martinez, Xander Bogarts and Andrew Benintendi.
The article also explained that when Barkett was with Indy, he managed Elias Diaz, Jordan Luplow, and Kevin Newman, all of whom have a shot of making the 2019 Pirates.
Why don’t we just switch those players and let Barkett develop Luplow and Newman into the next Boston all-stars while the Pirates try to make do with that Sox quartet?
SECOND BASE: The Pittsburgh Pirates are offering PNC Park for your photo backdrop for holiday cards.
The team photographer will take 15 minutes of photos, and photographed guests will receive a link to digital photos with printing rights. Photographs of six or fewer people are $100; seven or more are $150. With the Pirate Parrot in the picture, add $25 to both prices.
Photos will be taken from 3-7 p.m. on Friday, November 2; 9 a.m.-6 p.m. on Saturday, November 3; and 10 a.m. on Sunday, November 4.
Reservation forms are available online at https://www.mlb.com/pirates/ballpark/photo-sessions
THIRD BASE: One of my favorite additions to the Pirates last season was right-handed starter Joe Musgrove.
Last Friday, Musgrove had surgery to repair his abdominal wall after six weeks of rest didn’t heal the injury, according to a Pirates statement. He missed the last two weeks of the 2018 season after being diagnosed with a stress reaction on the front of his pelvic bone and the strained muscle in his abdominal wall. The surgery should help the stress reaction heal, according to the team.
The Pirates estimate that Musgrove will need six weeks to recover and should be ready to begin off-season training by January and be ready for spring training.
Although Musgrove missed the first two months of the season because of a shoulder injury, he did make 19 starts (4.06 ERA) for the 2018 Pirates.
On the field, Musgrove became a fan favorite with his bulldog approach to the game. He actually ran full out on balls hit in the infield—a novel idea for a pitcher (or seemingly any player these days) to actually try his best to beat out a hit. His get-down-and-dirty play backs up his argument that pitchers should have to bat.
HOME: One of the greatest needs for the 2019 Pirates will be to find someone who can belt a few baseballs into the Allegheny River. Morin and Josh Bell will be internal candidates to crank up the long ball as the team heads into another season, but remember that the Pirates expected Bell to hit even more homers last season than he did in 2017. That he dropped from 26 to 12 tater shots last season is worrisome. Moran hit only 11 homers in his rookie season. A total of 27 homers from these two players is just not acceptable. In addition, the team will be without its top home run hitter (Gregory Polanco, 23 dingers in 2018) for up to half of the 2019 season; it screams the need for outside help.
Knowing the Bucs’ historical philosophy, they probably will be overly optimistic about Polanco and hope that Bell and Moran can double their 2018 output.
They also might claim that Jung-Ho Kang is ready to come back following a two-year layoff. Kang hit 36 homers and drove in 120 in 232 games during 2015 and 2016.
The team must be pro-active and look outside the organization in a search for power. They must decide Kang’s fate within the next couple of weeks.
JIM SANKEY is a baseball columnist for The Allied News.