Battle for Bucs' first-base job heating up

Battle for Bucs' first-base job heating up

Battle for Bucs' first-base job heating up
SARASOTA, Fla. -- The race to be the Pirates' first baseman, off to an interesting start, may need a revised handicap. The favored entry has left the gate slowly, while two longshots are making some noise.

Garrett Jones went 1-for-2 in Monday night's 10-3 win over the Orioles, leaving him and Casey McGehee 1-for-6 in three games.

Meanwhile, two outsiders for the job have the Bucs' only home runs through three exhibitions. Matt Hague went deep in the third inning on Monday for two of his three RBIs, one night after Nick Evans homered against Toronto.

Hague, a valued prospect without big league experience, and Evans, a Mets alumni, are a combined 5-for-12 with four RBIs.

Hague has a four-year Minor League average of .302, and last season, his first at the Triple-A level, he hit .309 with 12 homers and 75 RBIs.

Manager Clint Hurdle's nickname for him: The Hit Collector.

"Yeah, he's finding grass," Hurdle said. "I wanted to find him some early at-bats [as the DH], but I told him not to lose his glove, that we'll give him some time in the field."

A few more games likes Monday night's -- when he joined Starling Marte and Alex Presley in the three-hit column -- and he might have to be called The Hague, stealing the name from the capital of South Holland, a Netherlands province.