Super! Utility men carrying Bucs through spring

With several regulars at WBC '17, Pirates' flexible players seizing opportunity

Super! Utility men carrying Bucs through spring

BRADENTON, Fla. -- Last Thursday, the Pirates fielded a lineup half-full of super-utility players: Adam Frazier at shortstop, Alen Hanson at third base, Phil Gosselin at second base and Chris Bostick in center field.

On Wednesday, they started Frazier at second base. Gosselin moved out to left field. Bostick entered the game to play second base. Max Moroff played shortstop after Jordy Mercer left the game. The lineup posted in the clubhouse for Thursday night's game includes Frazier back at shortstop, Gosselin at second, Gift Ngoepe at third base and Hanson in right field.

Put simply: The Pirates have a lot of moving parts in Spring Training, and for good reason.

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"Guys that are looking for jobs are real comfortable bouncing around. Guys that want to play in the big leagues are comfortable bouncing around," manager Clint Hurdle said. "Look at the opportunity that's available, and if you think it's an opportunity to make the club, you embrace it and move on it."

Frazier's backhanded stop

If Jung Ho Kang isn't ready for Opening Day -- he is still in South Korea, awaiting his visa -- the Pirates could have three bench spots earmarked for utility-type players. One of those will go to Frazier, who enjoyed an impressive debut offensively last season. Another could go to Hanson, who's out of Minor League options.

Frazier taking advantage of playing time

Gosselin may earn the other job through his experience, versatility and a right-handed bat the Bucs like. The Pirates traded pitching prospect Frank Duncan to the D-backs in order to acquire Gosselin, who hit a grand slam in Wednesday's 6-5 win over the Orioles.

Gosselin has done it before. An outfielder in college, he's played first, second, third, shortstop and left field in the Majors. It's not an easy job, but he welcomes it.

Gosselin's single

"I feel like it's becoming more prevalent across baseball, but there are definitely more [versatile players here] than the stops I've made in the past," Gosselin said. "There's quite a few guys that can bounce around, have good at-bats and play pretty good in the field. It's good to have that on the team. Guys like that can be valuable. We've certainly got a lot of good players here."

With so many similarly flexible players, what are the Pirates looking for? A backup shortstop, first and foremost.

Bostick's sliding stop

"Knock on wood, not for a long-term situation, but to give Jordy an opportunity to back away, to miss a game here and there," Hurdle said. "We're also looking what their second-best positions are, trying to profile each one of them individually. Who shows the best ability to go to the outfield? Who's best on the corner? Who's best in the middle? We're looking at a number of different things.

"That's why we're trying to get them out there with some repetition all at the same time -- so they're fresh on your minds, you're watching them play with another in a short sequence of events. Sometimes a guy's better suited at second than he is at short. Sometimes a guy can go over to third and do a nice job as well. We're going to spin them in the outfield as well. … We want to give them all starts as well to give us a nice volume of playing opportunity."

Hurdle on Frazier's value

With Andrew McCutchen, Starling Marte, Gregory Polanco and Josh Harrison out of camp for the World Baseball Classic, putting together a lineup each day might be somewhat of a puzzle for Hurdle. Fortunately, he's got a lot of pieces that fit just about anywhere.

"It's awesome that these guys are going to get this opportunity," Hurdle said. "It's good for us, and we need to take advantage of it."

Adam Berry has covered the Pirates for MLB.com since 2015. Follow him on Twitter and Facebook, read his blog and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.