Day 6: Daily Squeeze

Jenifer Langosch/MLB.com


Mazeroski with Walker.jpgClint Hurdle
addressed the troops this morning, just before the Pirates took the field for the team’s first official full-squad workout of the spring. Hurdle’s message to the players was much the same as it has been since his introductory press conference. Trust and focus are key components. Hard work, focus on the future and intensity in these Spring Training workouts were, too.

“There will be a group of men that turns this thing around here,” Hurdle said. “It will happen. So why can’t we? Why can’t we be the start? We need to set our bar at the championship level, starting with the execution and a mindset. We’ve got to think that way. We’ve got to act that way.”

So far, the message has been extremely well received.

“He’s happy to be here,” Ronny Cedeno said of Hurdle. “This is a good guy. I think we’ve got a better team than last year. We’ve got to play right. We’ve got to play better than last year. We have more talent here. We’ve got to put everything together and we’ll be OK.”

The rest of your newsworthy items…

  • A group of 14 pitchers threw their first session of live batting practice today. Those pitchers included: Paul Maholm, Joel Hanrahan, Kevin Correia, Evan Meek, James McDonald, Joe Beimel, Ross Ohlendorf, Jose Veras, Aaron Thompson, Rudy Owens, Kyle McPherson, Justin Wilson, Jeff Locke and Michael Crotta. After warming up, each pitcher threw 15 pitches, stepped aside for a bit and then returned to throw 15 more. Hitters took turns rotating in to hit.
  • The healthy pitchers who did not throw on Saturday will throw their live BP sessions on Sunday.
  • Right-hander Kevin Hart threw off flat ground and it wasn’t just long toss. Hart threw with plenty of intensity.
  • Hall of Famer Bill Mazeroski has arrived and began his work with infielders right away. He spent significant time next to second baseman Neil Walker (how fitting) on Saturday and will continue to work closely with Walker all spring.
  • If you’re looking for a one of many feel-good stories this spring, here is one for you to consider. Tyler Yates talks in length about his journey back from Tommy John surgery and about a phone call to his dad, who encouraged him to give baseball one more chance as he was prepared to quit.
  • The Columbus (Ga.) High School baseball team was out shagging fly balls on Saturday and will do so again on Sunday. Pirates national crosschecker Jimmy Lester has a son on the team. Two local teams will be joining the Pirates to help in the outfield next week.
  • I get a lot of questions at this time a year about how so-and-so looks fielding or hitting or throwing at this point in camp. Let me emphasize, as I do every year, that it is way too early to be making judgements on that. Spring Training results need not be taken all that seriously because they often aren’t a good predictor of what will actually happen from Opening Day on. Keep that in mind for the next six weeks.
  • Hurdle hinted at such a warning, too, when talking about what he has seen out of his hitters during the situational hitting drills: “I see focus and intent. Obviously, they want results right away but it’s a new process for them. It’s not so much about the results daily as the preparation that is put in and the focus doing it. Some of the guys haven’t shown up very well in some of the drills. They take it personally. They’re understanding, though, the reason behind it.”
  • The Pirates have five more workout days before they face the State College of Florida, Manatee-Sarasota baseball team in a seven-inning exhibition game next Friday. Hurdle said he will use mostly young players in that game.
  • The city of Bradenton is holding a pep rally Saturday from 5-7:30 pm on Old Main Street. Highlights include player autograph sessions and speeches from Frank Coonelly, Hurdle and Steve Blass. The event is free to the public.
  • The Pirates will hold photo day on Sunday.

Follow me on Twitter: @LangoschMLB

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