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Kyle Crick, acquired in Andrew McCutchen trade, seeks spot in Pirates bullpen | TribLIVE.com
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Kyle Crick, acquired in Andrew McCutchen trade, seeks spot in Pirates bullpen

Kevin Gorman
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Christopher Horner | Tribune-Review
Pirates pitcher Kyle Crick throws live batting practice during spring training Monday, Feb. 19, 2018, at Pirate City in Bradenton, Fla.

BRADENTON, Fla. — As the former top prospect in the San Francisco Giants system, Kyle Crick is accustomed to lofty expectations, so the relief pitcher isn’t about to let it bother him with the Pirates.

Crick was the centerpiece of the Andrew McCutchen trade, acquired along with minor-league outfielder Bryan Reynolds last month, so he knows his name will always be attached to the five-time All-Star.

“All the expectations that I’m actually influenced by come from within, so I’m not really bothered by what other people think I should do or what other people think my role should be,” Crick said. “I’m going to determine ultimately what my role will be and what I do on the mound will determine what it is.”

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Crick found his first source of comfort with the Pirates when he arrived in Pirate City and found his locker next to fellow reliever George Kontos. They were locker mates in Crick’s first spring training in 2013, when Baseball America rated him the Giants’ No. 1 prospect. Kontos took Crick under his wing, showing him video on how to break down hitters and going over counts with him, as well.

“So he’s taught me quite a bit,” Crick said, as Kontos hovered behind reporters during an interview and playfully asked a question about whether his influence was imperative to Crick’s development. “I think imperative is a strong, strong word, but he has influenced it, yes, he has influenced it.”

Crick, a 6-foot-4, 220-pound right-hander, pitched in multiple roles with the Giants last season and had runs of dominance mixed with a stretch of struggles. He held hitters to a .191 batting average, allowed only three inherited runners to score and threw 21 scoreless innings from July 7-28. Then he was scored upon in four of five outings from July 31-Aug. 20 before giving up one run in his five seven appearances.

Pirates general manager Neal Huntington said the team sees Crick in a role as a potential multi-inning reliever who can develop into a setup role.

“Kyle’s got an explosive fastball, a good breaking ball, can get swings and misses, so there’s two weapons to work out of the major-league bullpen,” Huntington said. “We’ve talked to Kyle about building on the success he had a year ago and come in and we see him as a quality back-end reliever. He’s got the versatility to give us some length but also to go get some important hitters.”

For now, Crick is trying to find a place in a bullpen that could get more crowded if the Pirates send Steven Brault or Tyler Glasnow there if they don’t win a spot in the starting rotation.

“I had the opportunity last year, pitching in a bunch of different roles out of the pen, so I’m pretty comfortable with all of them,” Crick said. “I think I pitched long relief, mid-relief, eighth inning and ninth inning — pretty much every role except closer with the Giants. I think they did it on purpose, to give me that experience and now I’m here so we’ll see where it takes me.”

Kevin Gorman is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at [email protected] or via Twitter @KGorman_Trib.

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