TAMPA, Fla. -- A competition that began with four is down to one, and Steve Pearce is the last man standing.
Though the Pirates are hesitant to make any roster decisions absolutely official, Pearce is all but set to begin the year on the team's bench. He beat out Garrett Atkins, Josh Fields and Andy Marte, who was reassigned to Minor League camp on Saturday, for the job as the club's primary backup corner infielder.
"I've surprised myself a little bit, honestly," Pearce said. "Going over to third after not having played for so long, it came naturally. In the outfield, I'm moving a lot better. I've felt good everywhere they've moved me. I think I have exceeded expectations."
In addition to playing both corner infield spots, Pearce also has the ability to fill in at either corner outfield position if needed. He has worked extensively this spring to get more comfortable at third base, a position Pearce hasn't played regularly since college, and has also gotten some work in left field.
Pearce has never been on a Major League Opening Day roster before, and he is already giddy about the strong possibility of that changing. He is finishing camp strong, too, with 10 hits in his last 25 at-bats. That string of success coincides with when Pearce eliminated the leg kick from his swing, an adjustment made so that he'd be better prepared for a bench role.
"I feel really good," Pearce said. "I'm making a lot of hard contact. The power numbers will come. I feel I'm way ahead of where I usually am at this point."