Biertempfel: Despite Walker’s eventual return, Holt might stick with Bucs
Brock Holt’s .432 batting average at Triple-A caught the attention of the Pirates’ front office, but it was Neil Walker’s back injury that led to his call-up. If Walker had made a quick recovery, Holt probably would have gone back to Indy, where he’d be guaranteed lots of playing time.
But Walker has been out longer than expected. And Holt has played perhaps better than expected. So now what?
Walker might be back in action Monday, when the Pirates begin a three-game set against the Reds. By then, Indy might be knocked out of its first-round playoff series. But even if Indy advances, Holt could remain with the Pirates after Walker returns to the lineup.
Holt has shown he can be a catalyst at the top of the lineup, an ingredient the Pirates have searched for all season. The Pirates can keep Holt’s bat in play by giving him some starts at shortstop in place of Clint Barmes.
Holt is a natural second baseman, but he played shortstop in nine of his 24 games with Indy. At Double-A Altoona this year, he was used almost exclusively as a shortstop.
“I feel comfortable there,” Holt said. “There are differences — distances of throws, the reads and angles, turns and feeds — but I feel pretty good at both.”
But don’t expect Holt to outright replace Barmes.
“It is unrealistic to expect Brock or any of our other shortstops to match Barmes’ defense,” general manager Neal Huntington said. “Barmes has rebounded with the bat and has been essentially what we projected him to be overall — an outstanding defensive shortstop that stabilizes our infield defense while providing adequate offense.”