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By Zane Heiple

Lyle Overbay’s Leadership Will Be Key For Bucs In 2011

The final part of our five-part series will focus on the men patrolling the diamond for your Pittsburgh Pirates in 2011.
Ryan Doumit:  It looks like Ryan will once again be behind the plate on Opening Day for the Pirates, due to a back injury to Chris Snyder.  This will be his 7th season with the Pittsburgh Pirates.  He was drafted by the Buccos in the second round of the 1999 draft.  Plagued by injuries for most of his career, Doumit could play a variety of roles for the Buccos such as catcher, first baseman, right fielder, pinch hitter, or designated hitter.  His days could be numbered in a Pittsburgh uniform due to the depth at the catcher position, though his high salary may cause teams to pass on him.  For his career, he is a .269 hitter with 55 homeruns and 226 RBI.  This spring he has gone .209 with seven RBI.  As  Pirates’ fans, we hope Doumit can perform well until Snyder can come back, not only to help in the win column, but to increase his trade stock.
Jason Jaramillo:  This will be his third season in a Pirates’ uniform since coming over from the Philadelphia Phillies in a trade for Ronny Paulino in December of 2008.  The Phillies drafted him in the second round of 2004.  His time in Pittsburgh has been spent mainly as a backup catcher and filling in for Ryan Doumit when injured.  Jaramillo will once again serve as a backup this year to Doumit as well as Chris Snyder once he comes off the DL.  He’s a career .235 hitter with four homeruns and 32 RBI.  This spring he’s batted .439 with a homerun and seven RBI in 17 games.
Lyle Overbay:  A free agent signing in the offseason, Overbay was brought in to provide leadership, be a big bat in the lineup, and increase the defensive credibility of the infield.  This being his 11th year in the big leagues, Overbay played the previous five seasons for the Toronto Blue Jays where he averaged a .266 batting average, 17 homeruns, and 67 RBI.  While his offensive numbers aren’t All-Star worthy, his defense over the past five years has yielded a .996 fielding percentage.  To some of us, this may sound like another Adam LaRoche, but hopefully Overbay’s bat will show up in the months of April and may and stay consistent throughout the year.  This spring he has batted .364 with four home runs and 13 RBI.  If he is able to maintain numbers close to these over the course of the season, it will provide the Pirates with the power the lineup has been missing for years.
Steve Pearce:  The Pirates plan to stick Pearce in the corners this season.  Over the course of Spring Training, he has seen time in left and right field, along with first and third base.  A former eighth round pick of the Pirates in the 2005 draft, Steve has spent the past few years going between Indianapolis and Pittsburgh.  2011 will be his first season on the Opening Day roster.  For his career he has a .240 average with eight homeruns and 42 RBI.  This spring he batted .286 and brought about four RBI.  His ability to learn both third base and left field this spring has allowed him to make this roster and will play a key role coming off the bench this year.
Neil Walker:  2011 will mark the first full season for the Pittsburgh Kid to be in the big leagues.  Walker was drafted by the Pirates in the first round of the 2004 draft.  After he was drafted, the Pirates had Neil switching back from playing third base and catching.  It wasn’t until 2010 that Walker was given a chance at second base by former manager John Russell.  Second base is where Pirates’ fans will see him this year and after an impressive season in 2010, it looks like he will only be better in 2011, since he has had the benefit of working all spring with Buccos’ great Bill Mazeroski.  For his career, he has hit .288 with 12 homeruns and 66 RBI.  This spring, he has increased his average to .309.  With Neil slated to hit in the second slot, he will be a major factor in the Buccos’ run scoring ability.
Ronny Cedeno:  2011 will be his third season in a Pirates’ uniform after coming over from the Seattle Mariners along with Jeff Clement, Aaron Pribanic, Brett Lorin, and Nathan Adcock for Jack Wilson and Ian Snell during the 2009 season.  Without much depth in the Minor Leagues at the shortstop position, Cedeno could be here for some time to come.  With an ability to make the spectacular play, Cedeno needs to be able to lower his errors on the routine defensive plays in 2011.  As of now it looks like he will be batting eighth in the lineup, with a .245 career batting average and only batting .200 this spring, he will need to vastly improve this number in order for the Pirates to increase their run output this season.
Pedro Alvarez:  The highest touted Pittsburgh draft pick in over two decades will begin his first full season in the Major Leagues at the hot corner for the Buccos.  The former overall number two pick by the Pirates in 2008 made his debut in a Pittsburgh uniform on June 19, 2010.  After a slow first month, Pedro finished the year strong with a .256 batting average, 16 homeruns and 64 RBI.  This spring he has hit .250 with two homeruns and 11 RBI.  Fans hope to see that with a steady place in the lineup, he will increase his batting average, as well as his homerun and RBI totals.
Josh Rodriguez:  The former second round draft pick of the Cleveland Indians in 2006, Rodriguez will make his Major League debut when he takes the field for the Pirates in 2011.  He has spent parts of three seasons at the AA level and the second part of the 2010 season at AAA.  At the AAA level, he hit .293 in 86 games.  This spring he has hit .289 with one homerun and six RBI.  Labeled as a utility player, he will most likely see most of his playing time at either shortstop or second base.
That concludes our series on the Pirates’ 25-man roster to start the 2011 season.  Please stay tuned to Fans From The Stands throughout the year for any roster moves that the Pirates make.
And…
As Always…
Let’s Go Bucs!