PITTSBURGH — The Pirates plan on using Alex Presley as the starting left-fielder, despite signing veteran outfielder Nate McLouth to a one-year contract this December. Presley, who baring injuries, will make the club out of spring training for the first time in his career and has been working hard this offseason to gear up for the grind for a full-season in the Majors.
“I’m just building off every year prior to, coming into the off-season stronger after the season every year now,“ Said Presley, who was in Pittsburgh for PirateFest. “Over the years I’ve really built up my body. It just gets better every offseason.”
Presley, 26, is coming off a solid 2011 season both with Triple-A Indianapolis and in the Majors with Pittsburgh. Presley produced a professional season-high 179 hits combined with Pittsburgh, Triple-A Indianapolis and High-A Bradenton (rehab) and was leading the International League in hits (98) while batting .336 before getting the call to the big leagues on June 27.
On his season debut in Toronto, Presley connected for his first Major League home run in his first at-bat in the Majors since being a September callup in 2010. The homer was one of four that Presley hit over 52 games with Pittsburgh this season. Presley finished with a .298 average, 12 doubles, six triples and 27 runs.
Presley spent the majority of the season in Pittsburgh batting leadoff while Jose Tabata was injured. Presley produced a .302 average in 43 games as the leadoff hitter, .258 over seven games in the two spot. The 26-year-old worked on bunting and base running during the Instructional League this fall.
“It was good. I didn’t have to be there long, as far as workload during the day” Presley said. “But I got quality work in. I bunted a bunch. I got a lot better in that short span. That’s one of the things they want me to do more is bunt. I’m looking forward to carrying that into the season. I think it can help me out a bunch.”
Presley said the one-on-one work has made him more comfortable. Presley is expected to bat second in the lineup in 2012.
“It gave me more of a direction going there, having people work with me instead of going home and doing things my own way and coming back and getting changed,“ he said. “I know how I need to go about it so when I’m at home, I can do it the right way. I thought I was already good at bunting. I just didn’t use it very much.”
Presley will join Andrew McCutchen and Tabata as the three starting outfielders. McLouth will return to Pittsburgh as the Bucs fourth outfielder, making the club perhaps one of the speediest outfields in the Majors.
“It’s gotta’ be, right?,“ Presley said. “We need a fast outfield for our dimensions in left and center especially. I think that’s the kind of outfield we have to have to prevent runs out there because it’s big. I’m excited about it.”
Photo credit: Yahoo! Sports