Bucs fulfill mission of playing three center fielders

Bucs fulfill mission of playing three center fielders

HOUSTON -- The Pirates have talked about it in theory for years: An outfield staffed by three center fielders. Under general manager Neal Huntington's watch, the organization's top outfield prospects are all nurtured as center fielders, with the premise that if you can handle that, transitioning to a corner is a cinch.

Theory became fact on Friday night, when Alex Presley started in right field with Starling Marte and Andrew McCutchen remaining in left and center, respectively. That trio played a total of 1,194 games in center (out of 1,538 or 78 percent) during their Minor League apprenticeships.

"We definitely think we have an outfield to cover ground. If a ball's got a hump in it, it'll come down in leather," said Pirates manager Clint Hurdle.

Presley was making his first start in right field since Sept. 27, 2010, replacing Garrett Jones. The one actually bumped from the lineup against Houston righty Jordan Lyles was Casey McGehee, with Jones moving in to play first base.

Presley entered as a late-game defensive replacement Thursday in right field, his first big league appearance there since Sept. 28, 2010. He has to adjust to the new corner, as well as to the loss of his left-field job to Marte.

"It's a little different, in the way the ball comes off the bat. Nothing major. I get looks during batting practice to get used to it," Presley said of the different perspective. As for the change in roles, "I'll play whenever time permits. I'm not that worried about it. I'll keep working hard no matter what the role is, and do whatever I can to help the team."