BRADENTON -- When Mike Morse broke into professional baseball, he weighed a lean 185 pounds and played shortstop.
Finding his way through the Seattle Mariners system, Morse eventually grew out of that role.
And when he arrived in the Pacific Northwest surrounded by a bevy of talent stunting his playing time at a particular position, Morse embraced the utility role.
It's no different this spring with Morse slated to platoon with John Jaso at first base for the Pittsburgh Pirates.
"I'm the kind of guy that whatever plan that (manager) Clint (Hurdle) has for this team, I'm for," Morse said prior to Friday's Grapefruit League game against the Tampa Bay Rays at McKechnie Field.
That means aiding Jaso's learning curve at a new position, too.
"I got to where I am today, because people weren't selfish when they were around me," Jaso said. "They were helping me out with things in a very good way. At this point, it's our turn to do it in return. And I have been around for a while,
but I am switching to a new position. So I'm not stubborn and I listen to other people. And he's not stubborn, so he talks. It's a great combo."
Morse found his way to the Steel City at the trade deadline last year.
It is the latest stop for the veteran, who made his Major League Baseball debut with Seattle in 2005.
By that point, his body had grown into a 6-foot-6, 240-pound frame, which was too big to play shortstop.
But that didn't keep Morse from becoming a MLB regular, even in a lineup that featured third baseman Adrian Beltre, first baseman Richie Sexon and corner outfielders Raul Ibanez and Ichiro Suzuki.
"When it was my time to play that position, I wanted to do it where there was no change in who was playing over there," Morse said.
"So if I had to go over and play third on a Sunday so Beltre could get a day off, I wanted to play as good as Beltre did it. I didn't want it to be, 'Oh, well we have a problem at third today.' No, it was always, 'Oh, Mike's over there. No big deal.'"
Focus on hitting
Eventually Morse got his chance as an everyday first baseman in 2011 with the Washington Nationals.
"It was one of those years where they just say, 'Here, you're playing first. Relax, go play,' " Morse said.
That allowed Morse to focus more on hitting, and he produced with a .303 batting average, 31 home runs and 95 runs batted in.
But he was on the move again by 2013, and found his way out west with the San Francisco Giants en route to winning the World Series in 2014.
Following that season, Morse, a native of Fort Lauderdale, met NFL legend Dan Marino, as Morse enjoys watching Miami Dolphins games during the offseason.
Morse said it really hit him how great Marino was as a quarterback, yet he never won a Super Bowl title.
"I just thought to myself how rare is it to go to a World Series and actually win it," Morse said. "And to go for the first time, for me to go for the first time and actually to win was so awesome."
Bringing championship experience into the Pittsburgh clubhouse, Morse can pass along that mentality to the Pirates, who have qualified for the playoffs three straight years and have been bounced in the National League wild-card game the last two seasons.
"I learned a lot about winning. I learned a lot about team-first mentality," Morse said.
"One of the things that I kind of push to this guys is winning's first. Your numbers and everything else comes last. Once you win as a team, everything else will find its place."
So far it has for Morse, even though his passion on diamond began in the middle of the infield.
"To heart, I'm still a shortstop, even though it's been about 10 years since I played short," Morse said.
Just a shortstop who fits in where he's needed.
Jason Dill, sports reporter, can be reached at 745-7017 or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @Jason__Dill and like his Facebook page at Jason Dill Bradenton Herald.