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Newman settles into regular role in Bucs' infield

Hurdle says talk about early struggles helped rookie
September 16, 2018

MILWAUKEE -- Pirates manager Clint Hurdle called rookie infielder Kevin Newman into his office about a week ago.The team's 2015 first-round Draft pick seemed overwhelmed since being called up on Aug. 16. He had three hits in his first 30 at-bats. The game is fast in the big leagues, and

MILWAUKEE -- Pirates manager Clint Hurdle called rookie infielder Kevin Newman into his office about a week ago.
The team's 2015 first-round Draft pick seemed overwhelmed since being called up on Aug. 16. He had three hits in his first 30 at-bats. The game is fast in the big leagues, and Newman was struggling to keep pace.
"I said, 'How you doing?'" Hurdle said. "He says, 'I'm OK.' As you all have heard me say before, when people say they're OK, they're not OK. Because OK is a Latin term for mediocre. [Medius] means halfway, [ocris] means stony hill. So you're halfway up a stony hill. How comfortable is that?
"So we just walked through it. I go, 'So what's going on? This game's pretty fast. A little overwhelming.' [He says], 'Yeah.' "[I said], 'Basically, son, [junior varsity] is Triple-A. This is varsity. We'll figure it out together. Just acknowledge the fact that we've seen it before. You're not the first guy walking through this fire.'
"That in and of itself hopefully loosened him up a little bit. 'Hey, we've got your back, we'll get through it. You're going to play.'"
The chat seemed to work. The 25-year-old Newman extended his hitting streak to five games and went 1-for-3 with two RBIs in the Pirates' 3-2 win over the Brewers on Sunday at Miller Park.

Newman has appreciated Hurdle's guidance as he continues to adjust to life in the big leagues. He earned his promotion after hitting .302 with four homers and 35 RBIs in 109 games for Triple-A Indianapolis this season.
"It's great," Newman said. "Getting out there, the more innings and at-bats I can get, the more comfortable I become. It's starting to show a little bit. I'm definitely a lot more confident up there than I was when I first came up."
The game already has started to slow down for Newman, who has a chance to win the Pirates' everyday job at shortstop in 2019.
"When I first got up here, it seemed like it was pretty fast," Newman said. "Now, it's kind of going back to just being the game of baseball, the same game that I've been playing for my whole life.
"It's coming back to, 'I know I can be here, I know I can play. Now I just go out there and play.'"

Tom Musick is a contributor to MLB.com.