BRADENTON -- As the Pittsburgh Pirates’ first full workout of the spring got under way Friday morning at Pirate City, Casey McGehee played catch with young third baseman Pedro Alvarez.
A little while later, after the team split into groups spread out on four fields, McGehee took throws and grounders at first base.
Mentor. Player. You name it.
Such is McGehee’s role with the Pirates, who acquired him a trade last December from Milwaukee for reliever Jose Veras.
“I’ll do whatever. Obviously, that’s my goal,” he said. “My goal is to help, and by help I mean to win games. ... I’m more than happy to talk to people and try to help out with things when I can, more than anything, just try and do what I can on the field, do what I know I bring to the table to help this team win.”
McGehee split time at third base and first last year with the Brewers and should play a similar part in Pittsburgh, especially because the club’s other first baseman, Garrett Jones, hits from the left side of the plate and McGehee is a righty.
“His versatility will definitely help us out,” manager Clint Hurdle said. “He’s got limited experience at first, but we’ve got him moving around out there already, and I don’t think it’s going to be anything out of the realm of what I’m going to ask.
“We know what he can do at third base; he’s proven himself as a very capable defender. ... We’ll see where the competition takes us.”
The 29-year-old McGehee is expected to be a boost off the field, too. Though he has played just three full big-league seasons, he has tasted success. He finished fifth in the National League’s Rookie of the Year and hit .301 in 2009 and drove in 104 runs in 2010.
And he has struggled, just as he did last year, when McGehee hit .223 in 155 games.
Such a wide breadth of experience can be a boost to the 25-year-old Alvarez, who had a strong rookie season in 2010 but batted .191 during an injury-plagued 2011.
“We’ve already had a lot of conversations, and he’s brought it to the table that he’s here to help in whatever way he can help,” Hurdle said. “There’s plenty of bats for everybody as long as we do what we’re capable of doing as a team.”
That’s what McGehee really wants to do, contribute on the field. And with Hurdle using the word “competition” often when speaking of McGehee, it appears the player will get his wish.
“I’m not even 30 years old yet, but at the same time, I think I’ve been fortunate enough to be around guys who have influenced my career to this point,” he said, “and the good points they made to me, hopefully I can relay to somebody else and maybe they can grab hold to the same way I did. But my big thing is I want to go out there and lead by example and do what I’m capable of doing on the field. However that all shakes out remains to be seen. But I think I’ve got plenty of baseball left in me to where I’m not ready to take on a coaching role.”