Kevin Newman Looks Forward To A New Start

Pirates Shortstop Puts A Rough September Behind Him

Eric Hagman
February 19, 2019 - 6:41 am

Eric Hagman 93.7 The Fan

Bradenton, FL (93.7 The Fan) - The competition to find the Pirates next shortstop took a step forward Monday when Kevin Newman and Erik Gonzalez participated in the first full-squad spring training workout. 

The decision to not resign Jordy Mercer meant the Pirates would have a new shortstop for the first time since 2013.  When the Pirates drafted Newman in the first round four years ago he was seen as Mercer's eventual replacement, but has since found out there are no guarantees in baseball.  The good news for Newman during the off-season was the Pirates did not acquire a proven shortstop through trade or free agency, but they did add the talented Gonzalez, who played little the last three seasons as the backup to all-star Francisco Lindor in Cleveland.

"I've always had competition everywhere I've gone," Newman said.  "I knew they were going to bring someone else in and now it's a competition, and it will be fun and exciting."

Newman, 25, put up strong offensive numbers at triple-a Indianapolis in 2018.  He batted .302 with 30 doubles.  He also stole 28 bases.  His play at shortstop was steady, if unspectacular, similar to Mercer.  

Then came 31 games for the Pirates, and the results couldn't have been more different.

"You know the pitchers are better, it's the best in the world," Newman said of his first major league experience.  "I'm not going to sit here and say it's the same as triple-a because it's not.  The talent is just a lot better.  You have to adjust your game more."

Newman struggled at plate, batting .209 with little pop and looked unsure of himself in the field.  Manager Clint Hurdle and general manager Neal Huntington say Newman had lost weight and strength after nearly 500 plate appearances at Indianpolis.  Both men emphasized they haven't soured on Newman and that the slate is clean.

"I'm definitely washing it (the struggles)," Newman said.  "I'm taking the positives.  I was down some weight.  I'm definitely looking to take the end of the big league season, when I started to figure some things out at the (plate), take that into this year and move forward"