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Michael McKenry won over Pirates fans last summer and will be returning to PNC Park this summer. For good reason, the Pirates recently cut their other catchers, leaving McKenry, who is fantastic behind the plate and a solid backup for Rod Barajas.
I expect Josh Harrison to return in a super-utility role. He has been playing a lot of shortstop, third base and second base this spring, and has also spent time in left field. His versatility will go a long way this season.
Nate McLouth returns after two-and-a-half years in Atlanta, albeit under different conditions than when he left. When he was traded in June 2009, Pirates fans were furious at management for trading an all-star and fan favorite.
Then Andrew McCutchen showed up, and McLouth fell out of favor in Atlanta. The Pirates swooped in and picked him up, giving him a spot as the fourth outfielder.
The Pirates bench will also be occupied by either Garrett Jones or Casey McGehee. So that means four spots are taken with two remaining. Among those in competition are utility man Yamaico Navarro, Matt Hague, Nick Evans and Jake Fox,
I expect Navarro to make the team. He can play just about anywhere. I also expect Hague to make the team.He has had an extremely impressive spring.
The best thing about this Pirates bench is that all but one, McKenry, can play multiple positions. That's even true of the first base platoon-mates Jones (right field) and McGehee (third base). The Pirates will have plenty of versatility off the bench.
The Pirates' 2012 Opening-Day bench:
Catcher Michael McKenry
Utility Man: Josh Harrison
Fourth Outfielder: Nate McClouth
Platooned First Baseman: Garrett Jones and Casey McGehee
Utility Man: Yamaico Navarro
Corner Infielder: Matt Hague