Pirela Preparing

Pirela went deep on Saturday

TAMPA, FL - Jose Pirela has really been opening some eyes lately. Not only did he hit .314 over his final 75 games with the Trenton Thunder last year, hit .304 in his brief call-up with Scranton, and hit .332 with Aguilas del Zulia in the Venezuelan Winter League this offseason, but he hit .348 in 15 Spring Training games with the big league club. He says he's preparing for his opportunity.

He carried his blistering finish to the season last year with him into the Venezuelan Winter League. He wasn't just a singles hitter there either, he slugged over .500 and had an OPS over .900.

"The baseball over there is a little bit different," Pirela said through the help of a translator. "In Venezuela they actually have a lot of fans and they care a lot about baseball so they're loud, they're supportive, and that kind of runs through your body and gets the adrenaline going. It helps you to have more intensity with your game."

Intensity and hustle have never been a problem for him, however. In fact it is his all-out style of play that really turned the collective heads of the big league coaching staff this Spring.

"I think it was a beautiful experience over there," he said. "They inspire you to work even harder. I worked mainly on my defense but also on my hitting because is about getting better in all the aspects.'

He has continued to get better over the years and his game is really starting to peak lately, and he believes he is opening some eyes within the Yankee organization.

"I know a lot of eyes are on me and I only hope to be ready when the opportunity comes, and I hope the opportunity does come."

Back at minor league camp, Pirela should get his opportunity at some point if he continues to play the way he's been playing. He hit a towering solo home run to deep left field on Saturday and also made a great diving play at second base to rob a would-be base hit.

It remains to be seen how and where Pirela fits into the Yankees short-term plans. He could continue to be a utility player of sorts for either Double-A Trenton again or for Scranton, or he could slide over an play mostly second base.

"The Yankees organization asked me to stay healthy, continue the way that I play, and get better on defense. The goal is to play wherever the opportunity is [position-wise] so I can play everyday."

Still, Pirela can't help but notice that Robinson Cano has moved on to Seattle and there are no long-term, iron-clad obstacles for him at second base with the big league club right now and that has him working even harder.

"Hopefully the opportunity comes at second base but the most important part is to be prepared when the opportunity comes," he concluded.

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