Newspaper article Sarasota Herald Tribune

Freese Warms to Challenge with Pirates | Former Cardinals Standout Will Play Third and First Base for Pirates

Newspaper article Sarasota Herald Tribune

Freese Warms to Challenge with Pirates | Former Cardinals Standout Will Play Third and First Base for Pirates

Article excerpt

SPRING TRAINING: PITTSBURGH PIRATES

BRADENTON -- The first live batting practice David Freese saw this spring came courtesy of Masahiro Tanaka, the vexing right- hander who is in line to start Opening Day for the New York Yankees.

That same day, Freese had to contend with Luis Severino, a 22- year-old fresh off a dazzling rookie campaign.

It may not sound like the easiest way to break in with a new team. But Freese, the newest Pittsburgh Pirate, wasn't

complaining after he logged

complaining after he logged three at-bats last Thursday at McKechnie Field.

Signed March 11 to a one-year deal worth $3 million, Freese was happy to be back inside a batter's box. He was even happier to be doing so with the Pirates, who acquired him to play third base until Jung Ho Kang returns from a knee injury. Freese will then shift to the other side of the diamond to platoon at first base with John Jaso.

"It was exciting to get back. This is the longest offseason I've had since I've started playing baseball," Freese said. "I've been waiting for this day. ... Getting in the games is important."

Freese went 1-for-3 with a pair of strikeouts against two of the Yankees top pitchers.

Freese, 32, etched his name into baseball lore during the 2011 postseason when he drove in 21 runs in 18 games to help the St. Louis Cardinals win the World Series. He was named the MVP of the Series as well as the National League Championship Series.

Two years later, Freese's two-run home run off Gerrit Cole spearheaded the Cardinals' 6-1 win over the Pirates during Game 5 of the National League Division Series. Though his star has fallen a bit since, Freese still slugged .420 in 121 games last year with the Los Angeles Angels.

Though the Pirates waited nearly a week before getting him into a Grapefruit League game, and he hadn't seen any live pitching since last season, Freese expects to be ready April 3 when Pittsburgh opens the regular season at home against the Cardinals. …

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