Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Figueroa Hopes Versatility Can Lead to Spot on Roster

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Figueroa Hopes Versatility Can Lead to Spot on Roster

Article excerpt

BRADENTON, Fla. - Cole Figueroa has been a numbers guy for as long as he can remember. If baseball hadn't gotten in the way, he would've studied engineering rather than business at the University of Florida. He enjoys writing code with R and Python, computer programming languages.

Seems like someone who might know every digit of pi, right?

"Well, haven't tried this in a while," Figueroa said Sunday, then tried anyway. "It goes something like this . 3.141592653589793238462 64338327950288419716939937510.

"That's the first 50."

Figueroa, 28, signed with the Pirates in December as a minor league free agent. He has been running the math this spring and figures his best chance to break camp with the big league club is to bounce around the diamond. At this stage, he said, defensive versatility means more at-bats.

An infielder by trade, Figueroa played outfield just twice in the minors. This month, he already has played nine innings in left field, and five apiece at shortstop and third base.

"Just trying to find out where we can go with him," manager Clint Hurdle said over the weekend. "We profiled him as a super-utility guy. . We've got to get him out there and take looks."

Figueroa has a proud baseball heritage. His father, Bien (short for Bienvenido), played briefly for the St. Louis Cardinals in 1992. His godfather, Luis Alicea, spent 13 years in the majors. Figueroa and his identical twin brother, J.C., were a double-play duo through high school in Tallahassee, Fla.

"Short-and-second twins," Figueroa said with a smile. "Exactly what you'd expect."

The brothers were drafted in 2006, but did not sign and parted ways for college. J.C. played at St. Petersburg College and University of Tampa and was selected in the 41st round in 2008 - he now runs a hitting academy in Tallahassee. …

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