Healthy Phillip Evans ready to bounce around the field to play multiple positions for Pirates

·3 min read

Jun. 11—Upon returning to the Pittsburgh Pirates active roster after a stint on the injured list, Phillip Evans wore a smile almost as big as the new sunglasses that became a necessary accessory.

Evans learned the hard way how to dress to play the outfield after losing a Luis Arraez routine fly ball in the sun during a day game April 24 at Target Field in Minneapolis, realizing that he needed protective eyewear to help his eyes adjust to the sunshine.

After borrowing a pair of sunglasses from Bryan Reynolds in that game, Evans now has a couple of pairs of shades and some flip-up sunglasses of his own and wears them as much as possible while taking outfield reps.

"I was unfortunate enough that I made contact with that ball," Evans said of his error. "A lot of guys would have let that drop. I tried to do my best to catch it. ... Even when I got the shades from Reynolds, it didn't even help. The sun was right there. I got a (Josh Donaldson sacrifice fly) ball just after that, too, and I let him take it because I couldn't see it."

Since recovering from a left hamstring strain, Evans can see himself bouncing around to play multiple positions for the Pirates now that Ke'Bryan Hayes is locked in at third base.

"I feel very comfortable with him in both corners of the outfield, at first, at third," Pirates manager Derek Shelton said. "So he has the ability to bounce around, but feel comfortable with him in all four spots."

Evans started in right field for the seventh time this season Thursday against the Los Angeles Dodgers but has nine starts each at third base and left field, five at first base and one as the designated hitter. He even pitched a scoreless eighth inning in a 14-1 loss at Cincinnati on April 6.

"I'm sure I'll be bouncing around like I had been," Evans said. "That was the original plan going into the season, so I've been prepared for that since spring training. It's gonna be a lot of fun."

It's a good thing Evans spent spring training breaking in an outfielder's mitt, adding another glove to his collection. He has one for every position he plays, which is seven ... and counting.

Evans also is considered the Pirates' emergency catcher and stays ready to go behind the plate if necessary. He learned the position from Pirates assistant coach Glenn Sherlock when both were with the New York Mets during spring training in 2018.

"He had six weeks to teach me how to catch," Evans said. "I got in a (Grapefruit League) game to close out the ninth and had a fly ball. What are the odds of that? You see that three times a spring at most. So I definitely can do that. I hope we don't get to a point where I have to, but I think I'd be the guy."

For now, Evans wants to be a guy the Pirates can count on in any situation, especially with first baseman Colin Moran day-to-day after being hit in the right hand by a pitch. Evans was batting .326 through the first two weeks of the season, then took a nosedive by dipping to .216 before injuring his hamstring May 12. Evans went 2 for 3 against the Dodgers on Thursday to boost it back to .227.

"I feel 100%, and I'm glad to be back in the lineup with these guys," Evans said. "I'm excited to be a part of it again. I'm moved down in the lineup a little bit, so I'm going to do some damage down there and hopefully drive in as many runs as I can."

Kevin Gorman is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Kevin by email at kgorman@triblive.com or via Twitter .

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