Pirates outfielder Bryce Brentz eyes roster spot |

Pirates outfielder Bryce Brentz eyes roster spot

Jerry DiPaola
Christopher Horner | Tribune-Review
The Pirates' Bryce Brentz greets Kevin Kramer at home plate after they scored during a game against the Braves Tuesday, Feb. 27, 2018, at Champion Stadium in Lake Buena Vista, Fla.

BRADENTON, Fla. — As he often does with his remarks, Pirates manager Clint Hurdle had a unique way of describing outfielder Bryce Brentz’s hitting style.

“It’s an aggressive man in the box with bad intentions,” he said.

Brentz, who grew up a linebacker and wrestler in Murfreesboro, Tenn., won’t argue with his manager. After all, he’s been with the Pirates only a month, and he will be fighting to keep his job over the next week.

If the Pirates decide to open the season March 29 in Detroit with 13 pitchers, perhaps two players among Brentz, Jose Osuna and Jordan Luplow will be reassigned, released or traded.

When Brentz is at his best — and he’ll need to be to win a job — baseball is all about, in his words, “controlling the violence.”

“We all want to impact the baseball,” he said. “When I get up there, I want to break that thing into a million pieces. Sometimes, that will get you in trouble because effort level goes up, and then you miss pitches you shouldn’t miss.”

The Pirates acquired Brentz from the Red Sox on Feb. 20 for “cash considerations.” The money will help the Red Sox pay for the five-year, $110 million contract they gave to J.D. Martinez, who also scooped up Brentz’s roster spot.

“It was kind of a surprise,” Brentz said. “All good things must come to an end. We had a good run there. But it’s been a blessing to be with this team.”

For the Pirates, the move was designed to bolster their bench and provide an option if outfielders Corey Dickerson, Starling Marte and/or Gregory Polanco struggle or get hurt.

Brentz, 29, was a supplemental-round draft choice (36th overall) in 2010, but he played only 34 games over the 2014 and ’16 seasons with the Red Sox. In that limited time, he hit one home run, an odd statistic for a player considered to be a power hitter.

But he hit 31 home runs in 120 games in Class AAA Pawtucket last season, which breaks down to about one every series. That’s what caught the Pirates’ attention.

“It’s hard to say 31 home runs in AAA don’t mean anything,” Hurdle said.

Yet, Brentz’s home run bat hasn’t surfaced in spring training, except for one he hit March 8 against the Detroit Tigers.

“We haven’t got him synced up at the plate yet,” Hurdle said. “He’s getting closer.

“Spring training is a tough gauge. We’ve fed him a lot of at-bats, and we’ll continue to give him at-bats and see what he can do with them.”

At least Brentz is seeing the ball better than when he first arrived at LECOM Park.

“Some of it was contacts,” he said, noting his prescription changed before he arrived.

He joked he was “legally blind” for the first three weeks of spring training.

No joke, though, he said, “Everything was just blurry. I couldn’t tell what was what. That was tough to grind through that.”

He’s seeing clearly now, which he hopes will let him see PNC Park next month with a bat in his hand.

Jerry DiPaola is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at [email protected] or via Twitter @JDiPaola_Trib.

TribLIVE commenting policy

You are solely responsible for your comments and by using you agree to our Terms of Service.

We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.

While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.

We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers

We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.

We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.

We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.

We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.