CINCINNATI -- The Pirates took the field Friday night at Great American Ball Park wearing colorful uniforms, caps, cleats and gear for Players Weekend. But one of the highlights for each player was picking out a nickname to wear on the back of those black-and-bright-yellow jerseys.Some were obvious, like "Cutch"
CINCINNATI -- The Pirates took the field Friday night at Great American Ball Park wearing colorful uniforms, caps, cleats and gear for Players Weekend. But one of the highlights for each player was picking out a nickname to wear on the back of those black-and-bright-yellow jerseys.
Some were obvious, like "Cutch" for Andrew McCutchen, and "J-Hay" for Josh Harrison. Others were representative of their heritage, like "El Gocho" for Jose Osuna or "Arenoso" for Juan Nicasio. At least one moniker in the bunch didn't take hold until the player reached the Majors: "Cole Train."
Where did that come from, anyway?
"Tom Singer," Gerrit Cole said Friday.
Shortly after his Major League debut in 2013, Cole was approached by Singer, the Pirates beat reporter for MLB.com from 2012-15 who passed away suddenly in February 2016. Singer was the clever mind behind Francisco Rodriguez's ubiquitous "K-Rod" moniker, and he wanted to run a nickname by Cole, the former No. 1 overall pick out of Singer's beloved UCLA.
How did he feel about Cole Train?
Cole gave his blessing, and Singer kept writing it until it picked up steam. In 2014, Singer published a blog post about "Cole Train" in which he wrote, "Hope this one sticks as well as the last nickname for which I was responsible: K-Rod, for Francisco Rodriguez. Although, we hope Cole himself feels better about this one. For whatever reason, Rodriguez was never crazy about that one."
Safe to say this one stuck, too. When Cole takes the mound Saturday night in Cincinnati, he'll do so with "Cole Train" above his No. 45.
Cole wasn't the only one getting into the spirit of Players Weekend on Friday, however. Like a kid on Christmas morning, Harrison couldn't hide his excitement as he opened the boxes sitting in front of his locker at Great American Ball Park.
At one point, Harrison called over teammate Trevor Williams to show off his new gear. Harrison received a shipment including three pairs of Adidas cleats, and he had to display his haul before taking it to the field for the inaugural Players Weekend.
Harrison will wear his nickname "J-Hay" on the back of his special Players Weekend jersey in his hometown of Cincinnati as the Pirates take on the Reds. He'll also sport a few fresh pairs of cleats, one way players have been encouraged to express their personalities with relaxed restrictions on uniforms and gear this weekend.
Last Sunday at the MLB Little League Classic, Harrison received a pair of all-white cleats and decorated them with a little help. Throughout the Pirates' day at the Little League World Series, Harrison asked Little League players for their signatures -- using black and gold markers -- on his shoes. He wore those specialized cleats in the Pirates' win over the Cardinals at historic Bowman Field.
Harrison could have dusted off those cleats for Players Weekend, but he felt it was simply appropriate to only wear the Little League-themed kicks for the MLB Little League Classic.
He might wear two different pairs this weekend, both featuring various shades of black and yellow. The other is colorful, no doubt, but Harrison is keeping his sense of style. They've got to match his black-and-bright-yellow Players Weekend jersey, after all.
Adam Berry has covered the Pirates for MLB.com since 2015. Follow him on Twitter and Facebook and read his blog.