The Pittsburgh Pirates are only 18 games into the season and you already hear faint rumbles in the media world regarding the early struggles of Pedro Alvarez. Alvarez, to his credit, is taking the slump in stride. He has repeatedly said he isn't concerned, nor should he be.
So we're a little more than two weeks into this season and the Pirates' future all-star third baseman has no home runs and is batting below the dreaded Mendoza line.
Does that mean the highest regarded Pirates position player in the last 20 years is a bust? Did the Pirates organization make a mistake when they selected Alvarez No. 2 overall? Were his 16 long balls in just over 90 games a fluke last season? Should the Pirates fan base be nervous? Is Clint Hurdle and the coaching staff concerned?
The answer to all of those questions is: no no no no no!
Let's keep in mind that Alvarez didn't even enjoy a full rookie season last year. While he struggled during parts of his 2010 campaign, he also had a very impressive August and September. Alvarez is young. He is going through the same ups and downs that any second-year player would. It is very probable that he thought he could just pick up where he left off last season. It's only natural.
What Alvarez is in the process of learning is the fact he is playing in the highest level of baseball there is. This is the major leagues. Every player wearing a uniform is one of the best and most talented at what they do. A second-year player will feel like a deer in headlights at times. It is frustrating and stressful on the player. That is part of the deal.
Second-year teammates like Neil Walker and Jose Tabata very well may go through the same trials and tribulations at some point this season that Alvarez is going through now. It's part of the process. It's the learning curve.
This will only make the young third baseman that much better. Alvarez has dominated every level he has performed on, and this level will be no different.
First-year manager Clint Hurdle has given the struggling rookie some days off to watch and learn while he works on his swing. He is making a smart decision. Sending him out to face left-handed pitching while he is in the midst of a slump will do nothing but hurt his psyche and his team as well.
Hurdle is making the right call. Pedro Alvarez is too good of a talent not to find his way out of this thing. The fact the Pirates just won three out of four games on the road against the first place Reds, only helps. If the Pirates were on an eight-game losing streak, Alvarez's struggles would standout more.
Don't worry about Mr. Alvarez. He will show that he can handle adversity and very shortly just may show everybody why he was the No. 2 overall selection in baseball.