SARASOTA, Fla. -- In Wednesday night's 3-3 tie with the Orioles, Pedro Alvarez continued to essentially mock the pre-Spring Training public angst over how he would take to first base. He has put his best footwork forward, has made all the right decisions and routine plays -- and on Wednesday came up with a pair of great ones.
Both saved a run. In the first, with a runner on second, he dove to smother Chris Davis' smash into the hole and tossed to Francisco Liriano covering first for the third out.
"We all know he can catch the ball," Liriano said. "We know it's his first time at first base, but he's been playing well."
In the sixth, again with two outs and a runner on second, he dug out third baseman Josh Harrison's throw in the dirt to again retire the side.
"He had to lay out on a couple of different plays. He's worked extra hard on a bunch of difficult plays but, you're right, hasn't had them in-game," manager Clint Hurdle said. "He's developed very nicely this camp. He's instinctive there."
And the nice spinoff: Coincidence or not, Alvarez again is hitting the cover off the ball. Lightening the defensive pressure he had begun to feel at third base may be playing a part in his spring, which includes a .318 average, five homers -- including a two-run shot Wednesday -- that lead the Bucs, and 17 RBIs that lead the Grapefruit League.
"We'll get a better read on it all when the season starts," Hurdle said. "But he's swinging the bat very, very well. He's driving the ball. It's been a very good spring for him."
"The hands and feet have been really good," said general manager Neal Huntington of Alvarez's work at first. "He's made the throws he needed to make, and has made the adjustments he has had to make on the fly.
"He's looked like he feels comfortable. In rare instances, his lack of experience will show itself. But there's no question he's shown that, physically, he can handle it."