BRADENTON, Fla, — Kevin Newman is the kind of guy you root for — pleasant, quiet, respectful.
Few positions on the Pirates are open this season. Shortstop is one of them, though, and Newman is in a spring-training battle with Erik Gonzalez for the job vacated by Jordy Mercer, now a Detroit Tiger.
Newman, 25, a California native, played at the University of Arizona and was the Pirates’ first-round draft pick in 2015. Gonzalez, 27, came to the Bucs from the Indians in an off-season trade that sent Max Moroff and Jordan Luplow to the Tribe.
Newman made his major-league debut last season but batted only .209 in 31 games (91 at-bats) for the Bucs. Gonzalez played parts of two seasons with Cleveland in a