Q-and-A time with your Buccos
Those participating in the hour-long session at PirateFest included hitting coach Don Long, Bobby Crosby, Evan Meek, Garrett Jones, Steve Pearce, Daniel McCutchen, Andrew McCutchen, Lastings Milledge, Neil Walker, Paul Maholm, Andy LaRoche, Joel Hanrahan, Ross Ohlendorf, Charlie Morton, Ryan Doumit and manager John Russell.
Here are some of your questions, as best I could transcribe…
To Ryan Doumit and Paul Maholm, what is it like being some of the last guys left in this organization after all that turnover?
Maholm: It’s kind of odd all of a sudden to become the guy with the most time on the team. But it’s fun. We’ve got a great group of guys and we expect to win.
Doumit: It kind of happened real quick from me, being just a guy on the team to being a salty vet. But it’s kind of fun.
To Andrew McCutchen, we saw what you did after your walk-off homer last year, what are your plans for the next one?
McCutchen: No, I don’t have anything planned on the top of my head. Me and [Lastings] Milledge talked about what I would do with a walk-off the night before and I said I wanted to do that. Then I did. Do you have any ideas?
Do you have any superstitions?
A. McCutchen: I think the game itself is very superstitious. You do some things every day that you don’t even know you’re doing, like you’re bat stance. I go up with the Pirate Parrot and jump up before every game.
Milledge: The way we get ready for the game. We have a set routine going to the training room, getting your workout in. You try to get in a set routine and do it so long that if you don’t do something that you’re used to doing every day, it gets weird.
Walker: Me personally, I don’t have any superstitions. Probably the biggest thing is putting clothing on the exact same way. I know Andrew was lying. He doesn’t wash his socks.
Hanrahan: I usually drink a Red Bull about the fifth inning so if he calls me in any earlier than that, I don’t know what I’d do.
Ohlendorf: If I’m pitching at home, I eat the same thing before every game. I go down to Atria’s and get the same thing every day for lunch. Then when I get to the field, I play cards a little bit and then do a lot of reading. I read a lot of history.
Doumit: I think it’s more of just a routine of keeping everything in the same place. I like to have my catcher’s equipment in the same place, put my bat in the same place every day.
D. McCutchen: I have a routine every fifth day. I do the same thing every time I take the mound — throw six warm-up pitches. If I’ve been pitching badly, I’ll bust out new cleats, socks, sliders and see if that helps.
Jones: When I was going through a slump, I took out at Olive Garden one day and then went 3-for-4. Then I started getting the same thing at Olive Garden for lunch every day for about a month and a half.
What do you like to do when not playing baseball?
A. McCutchen: I like video games – Guitar Hero and Call of Duty.
Walker: For me it’s usually the movies and getting dinner at a normal time.
Morton: I like to play the guitar and listen to music.
Doumit: I’m a big movie buff.
D. McCutchen: During the season, I like to golf. I’ve also been getting into hunting lately.
Jones: After the season I just go to my bedroom, turn off the lights and wait until next season. I just dream about baseball.
Coming to Pittsburgh you had a bad rap in the media, how have things been different in Pittsburgh?
Milledge: I think I brought a lot of stuff on myself in previous organization. I didn’t take the game very seriously. I was just always blessed with talent and a lot of things were handed to me. Once I came here, I didn’t take the game for granted anymore. I’m working a little bit harder, doing the things that got me drafted. Just not taking the game for granted. It’s a clean slate for me and I’m really taking advantage of everything that’s being offered to me.
Then Ohlendorf added: A lot of us had heard things about Lastings in the past, but I think I speak for everybody when I say that he’s been a great teammate. Things you’ve read about him being lazy or being a bad teammate, he’s not been that way. I think he’ll be one of the leaders.
How do you prepare mentally/physically to endure an entire 162-game season?
Ohlendorf: With physical preparation, you have routines and figure out what works. Mental preparation, a lot of it is just rest and being rejuvenated for the season. Some people read books – I do – about being aware of your thoughts. A lot of us are excited about this season. I think it’ll be different from last year when we trailed off. I think you can expect us to get better as the season goes on. It seems like there will be fewer trades than there have been. We’re all confident that we can be good Major League players.
Andrew, How did it feel to hit three home runs in one game with your parents in the stands?
McCutchen: It was definitely amazing. It was my parent’s anniversary and it was great for them to be there to enjoy that. The funny thing is that they were late coming to the game and missed the first one. They were able to see the next two. Who knows if it’ll happen again.
How do you come up to your at-bat music?
[Insert Andrew McCutchen rapping here]
Morton: I like country music the best. But some of it can definitely put people to sleep, so you have to find something interesting.
Doumit: I’ve always tried to follow Chipper Jones’ lead. He’s come up to Crazy Train his whole career. It’s kind of become his identity. I am doing the same thing and sticking with one song.
D. McCutchen: I don’t have anything really picked out. Maybe I’ll take one of Charlie Morton’s songs.
Jones: As a hitter, you’ve got to get something that people will get into. I might go with that new Miley Cyrus song “Party in the USA.”
Meek: I’m actually more of a Britney Spears fan.
Crosby: I’ve never had a walk-up song. I’ll take requests.
To Garrett, do you prefer to play first base or right field on a given day?
Jones: They are totally different positions. Thank you for saying I am amazing at first base. Those are pretty powerful words. But I don’t care where I play, I just hope to be in the lineup. I try to give 100 percent in every game. I probably feel a little more comfortable at first base because it’s my natural position, but I’ll play wherever they want me to play.
What was it like to get a win with the Nationals on a day off with the Pirates?
Hanrahan: I thought it was pretty cool. I kind of wanted to go to Houston and play that game with the Nationals before I got traded because I was on-deck and would have faced one of my good friends [LaTroy Hawkins]. But I was sleeping when it happened. I had just played 18 holes of golf.
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