Hur­dle stays pos­i­tive af­ter ros­ter shuf­fle

Pittsburgh Post-Gazette - - Baseball - By El­iz­a­beth Bloom El­iz­a­beth Bloom: ebloom@post-gazette.com.

BRADEN­TON, Fla. — This win­ter, the Pi­rates have been called tankers. And they’ve been called plenty worse by many fans. When pre­sea­son pro­jec­tions are made, the Pi­rates typ­i­cally aren’t in­cluded among the con­tenders.

Some­body for­got to tell man­ager Clint Hur­dle.

“I’ve seen some won­der­ful things hap­pen in this game,” Hur­dle said.

“More of­ten than not, no­body the script.”

Af­ter the first pitch­ers and catch­ers work­out at Pi­rate City, Hur­dle com­fort­ably fielded ques­tions about the Pi­rates’ 2018 chances, echo­ing what the front of­fice has said since the team traded out­fielder An­drew Mc­Cutchen and start­ing pitcher Ger­rit Cole: Don’t count this team out.

“The wave that we’ve talked about in the past hit the beach over the win­ter,” Hur­dle said.

“The wave hit the beach. And there’s ac­tu­ally an­other wave com­ing.”

Hur­dle said he has had con­ver­sa­tions with “just about ev­ery player” since the Cole and Mc­Cutchen trades, which he doesn’t want to dwellon.

“We’re fo­cused on the peo­ple that are here,” Hur­dle said.

“We’re hon­or­ing the past through those men, the ef­forts they put in. Now, it’s time to move for­ward. It’s not fair to the men that are here to con­tinue to talk about Ger­rit not be­ing here or An­drew not be­ing here.”

In­stead, Hur­dle was ea­ger to talk about some of the new play­ers he will work with now.

He re­ceived a pos­i­tive scout­ing re­port on Colin Mo­ran from third-base coach

Joey Cora, whose brother, Alex, was the Hous­ton Astros bench coach last year and now man­ages the Bos­ton Red Sox. Hur­dle gave the strong­est in­di­ca­tion yet that Mo­ran will be the pri­mary third base­man in 2018. “We want to give him that op­por­tu­nity to come in and take hold of it,” he said. And there was no need for tea leaves on Joe Mus­grove, who had more suc­cess in the Astros bullpen than he did in the ro­ta­tion: “We’d like to plug him in the ro­ta­tion and writes let him run with it.” The left-field spot was some­what murkier. Sean Ro­driguez, Adam Fra­zier and Jor­dan Lu­plow are “the three top guys to look at,” fol­lowed by new­comer Daniel Nava and, in cer­tain sce­nar­ios, Jose Osuna, whom Hur­dle prefers at third base. A three- to four-man left­field pla­toon might not be what Pi­rates fans en­vi­sioned as the ideal way to fill the out­field hole left by Mc­Cutchen, but, in Hur­dle’s view, there’s more to a ros­ter than what meets the eye. As he noted, their core was es­sen­tially the same in 2016 and 2017 as it was in their three-year post­sea­son run. The cur­rent team, he said, “can’t wait for the op­por­tu­nity go out and play.” “The place is go­ing to ex­plode when we win it all,” Hur­dle said. “The place is go­ing to ex­plode. “I still be­lieve that. I look for the op­por­tu­nity to stay and be a part of that. That’s un­wa­ver­ing be­lief.” NOTE — Daniel Hud­son did not throw his sched­uled bullpen ses­sion be­cause he sprained his right an­kle while jog­ging.

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