Hurdle looking at OBP in leadoff experiments

Pirates manager to try a number of lineup combos, with Jaso getting a shot at No. 1 spot

Hurdle looking at OBP in leadoff experiments

SARASOTA, Fla. -- John Jaso was the Pirates' starting leadoff hitter in Wednesday's 9-3 loss to the Orioles. Any reason the Bucs chose to try out that look for the first time this spring?

"Yeah," manager Clint Hurdle said, "a whole bunch of them."

Spring Training information

Hurdle cited Jaso's career on-base percentage and his experience in the leadoff spot as two of the main reasons why Jaso might be an interesting fit atop Pittsburgh's lineup. The Bucs' new first baseman might not be a prototypical top-of-the-order hitter, but that hasn't stopped a forward-thinking club from using him there before.

Jaso has been in the leadoff spot 124 times in his career, and most of those games came with the Rays in 2010 and '15. He's reached base safely at a .380 clip atop the order, well above the .325 on-base mark the Pirates got from their leadoff hitters last year.

Hurdle typically prefers to have speed at the top of the order in front of Andrew McCutchen, as evidenced by Gregory Polanco and Josh Harrison getting virtually all of the leadoff at-bats last season.

"The on-base percentage plays. I do like speed toward the top. I just think I need to look at it a little bit," Hurdle said last week. "I'm open to a lot of things. ... That's why the 30-plus games of Spring Training, they'll benefit us."

Hurdle plans to try out a number of different lineup combinations over the next few weeks as the Pirates move closer to Opening Day.

"This was one of them," Hurdle said.

Around the horn

• Left-hander Francisco Liriano, the Pirates' Opening Day starter, threw 70 pitches over four innings on Wednesday against Minor League players at the club's Pirate City training complex.

• McCutchen blasted a home run, his second of the spring, over a pavilion in the left-field picnic area off Orioles starter Kevin Gausman in the fourth inning. McCutchen has pulled two homers this spring, both of them well beyond the left-field fence.

Must C: McCutchen's deep homer

• Reliever Jared Hughes gave up three runs on three hits in one inning, raising his spring ERA to 19.64. Worth remembering: Hughes had a 10.61 ERA last spring, and he followed that up with a 2.28 ERA over 76 appearances during the regular season.

• Reliever Arquimedes Caminero allowed four runs on five hits and a walk while striking out two. His Grapefruit League ERA climbed to 18.69.

Adam Berry is a reporter for Follow him on Twitter at @adamdberry. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.