Lockers inside the clubhouse at Pirate City are equipped with gloves, bats, T-shirts, jerseys and other personal belongings.
For Pat Light, though, there’s not much inside his locker yet.
In fact, he was in need of a glove prior to the Pittsburgh Pirates’ workout — the first for pitchers and catchers — on Tuesday.
“The past week has been pretty hectic for me,” Light said. “... I don’t have a glove yet. First day of camp, first time I’ve ever showed up to spring training without a glove.”
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Light is one of the newest Pirates, acquired by the club last week after the Minnesota Twins designated him for assignment on Feb. 6.
The move left Light switching his spring training plans from Fort Myers to Bradenton, but also waiting on half of his gear to arrive.
“It’s not the most stress-free environment, especially when you don’t know anyone,” Light said.
Pittsburgh snagged the 25-year-old right-hander for a player to be named later or cash considerations. At 6-foot-5, Light is the latest hurler that comes with some size for the Pirates.
Among the 22 pitchers on the 40-man roster, half are 6-foot-4 or taller.
And with Light, he comes with a power pitching background. He’s hit 100 mph on the radar gun before. The trick for him this spring is the same as in the past: control.
8.6Strikeouts per 9 innings last year, and walks per 9 innings last year.
“My fastball command has always been key,” Light said.
Pittsburgh general manager Neal Huntington added: “It’s a new look for us. We don’t have guys with split-fingers. It’s a power sink. It gets swing-and-misses. It gets ground balls. There are some things we think we can help him play in the zone a little bit better. It was an upside arm that has had some challenges, but has had some profile about him.”
Throwing in the American League in 2016 meant Light didn’t need to swing a bat. A move to the National League, should he make the club, brings that potential challenge of hitting.
It’s something that isn’t Light’s forte.
Growing up in Colts Neck, N.J., Light became just a pitcher in his freshman year at Christian Brothers Academy. His coach decided that hitting wasn’t for Light, and it turned into a choice that panned out for him.
Light was drafted out of high school, but opted for college and played at Monmouth University in West Long Branch, N.J. Light’s career with the Hawks led to Boston drafting him with the 37th overall pick in the 2012 MLB First-Year Player Draft.
Within the Red Sox organization, Light became a reliever in 2015.
No longer looking toward a starting pitcher role in the big leagues, Light’s goal switched to focusing on becoming a closer.
He has some experience in that role and he has the velocity in his two-seam fastball to perform that job should he get that chance.
“That was the end goal and that’s where I wanted to be,” said Light, who also throws a splitter. “Ever since (the Red Sox) talked about me being a reliever, I was like, ‘If I’m going to be a reliever, I want to end as a closer.’ So hopefully that’s still a possibility going forward. As I learn and get better at what I do, hopefully that eventually ends up happening.”
Part of the learning curve is soaking up any tidbits from veteran guys. With Pittsburgh, Jared Hughes is one of those veterans. The sinkerball pitcher is entering his seventh MLB season.
“Whenever you throw 100, any offspeed pitch is going to be good when you throw it for a strike,” Hughes said. “Because everybody is all geared up for your 100, so then they have to see it and adjust to the offspeed. ... I do have advice and it’s to throw the heater for a strike and then the offspeed down. It’s good for everybody, though.”
In 2016, Light’s big arm led him to his MLB debut with Boston. And that experience was something unique when it comes to pitching in the majors.
“Boston was insane,” Light said. “... It’s sold out every night. I got the pleasure experiencing a Yankees series in Boston. ... David Ortiz hit a ball off the (Green) Monster to take the lead in the eighth inning off (Dellin) Betances, and I don’t think I’ve ever seen a place get that loud in my life. It was the end of June.”
After throwing 2 2/3 innings with the Red Sox, Light was traded to Minnesota last August and made 15 appearances with the Twins.
Oh, and about that glove issue. Light borrowed one from teammate Drew Hutchinson for Tuesday’s workout. And when he got back to the clubhouse, there was a box sitting at his locker.
A special delivery from Fort Myers.
- Music blasted throughout Pirate City on Tuesday, a change to the usual Pittsburgh workouts at the baseball complex in East Bradenton. Manager Clint Hurdle said he had some selections for the playlist, and offered his reasoning for his change that coincided with the first workout of the 2017 season. “The game’s not played in deaf silence, so we thought we would bring something to the table that would freshen things up,” Hurdle said. “Add some rhythm and rhyme to some guy’s steps and their minds. Just go out there and play ball.”
- Pirates president Frank Coonelly issued a statement concerning infielder Jung Ho Kang, who was charged with driving under the influence in South Korea in the offseason. Coonelly said Kang won’t be in camp by Friday, while a trial for the DUI-related charges could come Feb. 22. His reporting date remains undetermined.