BRADENTON, Fla. -- After a few days dominated by discussion of the past two years and last month's trades, the Pirates officially moved forward with their first full-squad workout of Spring Training on a warm Monday morning at the Pirate City complex.Before the players and coaches took the field, however,
BRADENTON, Fla. -- After a few days dominated by discussion of the past two years and last month's trades, the Pirates officially moved forward with their first full-squad workout of Spring Training on a warm Monday morning at the Pirate City complex.
Before the players and coaches took the field, however, they met with chairman Bob Nutting and manager Clint Hurdle. Although this spring is the beginning of what Hurdle has called a "new era" for the Bucs, Nutting's annual address hit on a number of familiar themes.
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"Bob's message to the team was, in my hearing, similar to the message he's given in the past: 'We're here to win,'" general manager Neal Huntington said. "We're here to bring World Series championship No. 6 back to Pittsburgh. We're here to help these guys be great. We're here to help provide them with resources and help them do their jobs to the very best of their ability. We're all in this thing together with one vision, one goal."
On Friday, David Freese questioned the fire in the Pirates clubhouse's -- the "demand to win," as he put it -- over the past two years. On Sunday, Josh Harrison reiterated his desire to be traded if Pittsburgh won't contend over the next two seasons. On Monday, they both took the field along with the other 62 players in camp.
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"If this is the club we choose our 25 to head north from, we believe in this group," Huntington said. "We believe in our options around the diamond. We believe in our depth. That doesn't ever stop us from looking to get better."
Before live batting practice, which pits the Pirates' hitters against their pitchers, there was baserunning practice with guidance from coach Kimera Bartee. Hurdle pointed to the Bucs' baserunning as an "area of angst" last season and, thus, an aspect of their game they'll aim to improve this year.
"We need to be smart. We need to be aggressive," Hurdle said. "Unpredictability would help us a lot this year in everything we do."
Then they split up for defensive drills. On Field 1, the infield was a window into the Pirates' present and future. Freese and new acquisition Colin Moran at third base. Jordy Mercer and No. 7 prospect Cole Tucker at shortstop. Harrison and No. 11 prospect Kevin Kramer at second. Josh Bell and veteran Daniel Nava at first.
In the outfield: Gregory Polanco in right and Starling Marte in center, with Adam Frazier and Jordan Luplow together in left. It's not advisable to read too much into where players line up on the first day of full, organized workouts. But Frazier and Luplow could be part of the Pirates' solution in left field this season -- at least, perhaps, until prospect Austin Meadows is ready.
Meadows manned left over on Field 4, where he was joined by a pair of outfield prospects -- Jason Martin and Bryan Reynolds -- acquired in the Gerrit Cole and Andrew McCutchen trades. Those were the moves that defined Pittsburgh's offseason, marked the transition from one era to the next and sparked conversation in the clubhouse about the team's direction.
As the Pirates move forward, there will be more questions with further discussion about what went wrong the past two seasons and how they can fix it. But the Pirates are optimistic about the squad they saw together for the first time on Monday morning.
"We think we've got depth. We think we've got upside with young players," Huntington said. "We think we've got some veterans that are capable of bounce-back [seasons]. ... Now, we need to go make it happen."