Pittsburgh Pirates: Solving the Pedro Alvarez problem

Pedro Alvarez

Pedro Alvarez

The Pittsburgh Pirates third baseman Pedro Alvarez continues to struggle defensively and it appears that the wheels have been set in motion to move him to first base.

Alvarez was recently removed from his regular role at third base after committing a league-leading 24 errors, 21 of which have been throwing errors. Now the 27-year-old is serving as a pinch hitter.

“He wants to help the club,” said Pirates General Manager Neal Huntington in an interview with 93.7 The Fan. He recognizes that Josh [Harrison] is playing exceptionally well and recognizes that if he can bounce and do a bunch of different things and swing the bat, that we’re going to be a better club than just kind of standing pat.”

With Pittsburgh in the thick of a playoff race, they need Alvarez in the lineup. Though Alvarez went into Sunday’s game hitting .233 with 15 home runs, he hit 36 homers last season, tying for the National League lead with the Diamondbacks’ Paul Goldschmidt.

It is clear that Alvarez has the potential, but his defensive woes may be affecting him at the plate. Pittsburgh’s offense has been lacking at times since the injuries to Andrew McCutchen and Neil Walker, and Alvarez’s pop could be just what the team needs.

Alvarez worked at first during batting practice Friday and Saturday before the Pirates took on the San Diego Padres. If El Torro can transition across the diamond this season it would help the Pirates greatly. He would be a major improvement over the platoon of Gaby Sanchez and Ike Davis.

The solution to the Alvarez dilemma may take time. With the Pirates in the thick of a pennant race, it can be tricky moving a player to a position that he has never played.

“Some guys take to it very quickly, some guys take a little bit of time, and we want to see how it goes; but most importantly, it has put Pedro in a position to help this club win games,” said Huntington. “We’ll see how things progress, literally day-to-day.”