Hurdle stays positive after roster shuffle
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.