May 29, 2013; Pittsburgh, PA, USA; Pittsburgh Pirates shortstop Jordy Mercer (10) successfully lays down a suicide squeeze bunt to score a run against the Detroit Tigers during the seventh inning at PNC Park. The Pittsburgh Pirates won 5-3. Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

Pittsburgh Pirates shortstop Jordy Mercer given golden opportunity

Almost since last season, Pittsburgh Pirates fans have been clamoring for Jordy Mercer to get a long look at shortstop.

It’s a combination of Mercer doing just enough to open up some eyes and anyone other than Clint Barmes would be considered an upgrade.

Jun 13, 2013; Pittsburgh, PA, USA; Pittsburgh Pirates shortstop Jordy Mercer (10) fields a ground ball against the San Francisco Giants during the first inning at PNC Park. Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

It looks like Pirates fans have finally gotten their wish.

After his start at short Wednesday night against the Cincinnati Reds, Mercer has received seven starts at the position in the Pirates last eight games. That’s enough to proclaim him the starter for now, something Pirates manager Clint Hurdle announced before the Reds series.

Part of the reason why Mercer is getting a look has been the fact that his glove has improved by leaps and bounds from where it was a season ago.

Then there is the obvious difference between Mercer and Barmes and that’s the fact that Mercer is much more competent with the bat. Barmes is batting .198 with a .496 OPS, entering Wednesday. while Mercer is batting .284 with an .804 OPS.

“Mercer is going to get some reps here because of the quality of his (defensive) play and the way he is swinging the bat,” Hurdle told the Tribune Review’s Travis Sawchik. “It’s playing the guy that is obviously taking care of both sides of the ball very professionally. I’ve spoken to Clint as well so he doesn’t wonder when he’s coming in. It won’t just be for a game; we’ll try to bundle (Barmes) for a few games, maybe against some good matchups.”

One problem with the Pirates approach with most young players is the fact they often don’t give their youngsters a long enough look to see what they are capable of, instead leaning towards aging and unproductive veterans.

It looks as if Mercer is about to get an opportunity he has earned.

Now it is up to him to take advantage of it.

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Tags: Clint Barmes Jordy Mercer Pittsburgh Pirates

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