Hurdle already has a plan for '13 lineup

Hurdle already has a plan for '13 lineup

PITTSBURGH -- In a moment of extreme candor on the final morning of the 2012 season, manager Clint Hurdle dropped the flag on competition for starting jobs with the 2013 Pirates.

The view from here is that it won't be wide open. The corner outfield spots will be intensely contested, and Garrett Jones' strong comeback season throws him into a complicated situation at first base with Gaby Sanchez.

Otherwise ...

"[Andrew] McCutchen will play center, [Clint] Barmes will play short, [Pedro] Alvarez will play third, [Neil] Walker will play second, and [catcher Michael] McKenry is going to be back," Hurdle said in his final pregame media session of the season. "Jones, going in, has added value to find a spot for him.

"Those are things you know going in, so you're talking about maybe two positions -- the two outfield corners that are going to be up for competition."

Six months ago, Alex Presley opened this season in left field and Jose Tabata was the man in right. Both remain very much in the picture, but next spring they will have to fight off Starling Marte and Travis Snider, respectively.

"Presley and Tabata were challenged this season, no secret about that," Hurdle said. "Marte, we have a better idea of his Major League skills and what he must still work on. So we have four guys in-house that we are going to look at [for the two outfield corner spots]. That's about as transparent as you can get."