Peter O'Brien Moving To First

TRENTON — Peter O’Brien is going to need a new glove.

The Thunder’s most prodigious power hitter spent fielding practice Saturday taking ground balls at a new but not entirely unexpected position — first base.

“I feel like it’s a pretty natural position (for me),” said O’Brien, who could make his first-base debut as early as Sunday afternoon. “I played a lot of third base last year, and the outfield, and my footwork feels good around the bag.”

The 6-foot-3, 215-pound O’Brien — who has already hit 21 home runs between the Thunder at High-A Tampa this season — has primarily played catcher and right field for the Thunder this season after playing behind the plate and at third in 2013.

With top Yankees prospect Gary Sanchez already behind the plate and O’Brien’s defense in right not exactly looking ready for the Bronx, however, a move to first had been widely speculated. According to Thunder manager Tony Franklin, the organization just wanted to make sure the time was right.

“Pete’s had a couple of position changes in the last couple of years, and we just didn’t want to overload him,” said Franklin, who said O’Brien will also continue to catch. “First base was going to be in his future at some point, we just didn’t want it to be too soon.”

While there certainly appeared to be some kinks for O’Brien to work out during his brief fielding session Saturday, his history behind the plate and at the hot corner seems to bode well for the transition.

“The biggest thing are just the little things, like cuts and relays and things like that,” he said. “To be honest, I’m pretty familiar with any position I’d play, because as a catcher you have to know every other position.”

At first, he also won’t have to shoulder the burden of handling a pitching staff.

“First base is base is just: pick it, catch some throws, and drop bombs,” he said with a laugh.

As for that glove, O’Brien said he had to borrow a spare from a box he found on top of teammate Rob Segedin’s locker, but a more permanent piece of leather is on its way.

It certainly appears it will get plenty of use.

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