Bucs saddened to miss Clemente Day in Puerto Rico

May 6th, 2016

ST. LOUIS -- The Pirates voted unanimously in favor of moving their May 30-31 games against the Marlins from Puerto Rico to Miami, but there still were mixed feelings about the decision.

The Bucs were pleased that Major League Baseball and the MLB Players Association carefully considered their concerns about the Zika virus and its potential impact on their families. But they also were disappointed to skip the trip, particularly given the significance of celebrating Roberto Clemente Day in the Hall of Famer's home country.

"Everybody was hoping to do it," manager Clint Hurdle said. "And I think we all can understand why we're not doing it, completely."

Team president Frank Coonelly released a statement saying the Pirates fully support the decision to move those games to Marlins Park but also noted the club's disappointment.

"We are saddened by the circumstances in Puerto Rico and elsewhere that led to this decision. We are hopeful that the public health institutions can quickly eradicate the health risks that are regrettably affecting the Puerto Rican people," Coonelly said. "We look forward to an opportunity in the near future to return to Puerto Rico to play before the great Pirates fans who were so excited for these games."

The Pirates met with MLB and the Center for Disease Control and Prevention regarding the Zika virus, which is spread primarily through the bite of an infected mosquito or sexual intercourse and can cause a serious birth defect known as microcephaly.

Right-hander Gerrit Cole, the Pirates' MLBPA representative, said the players had been told they'd need to wear long sleeves, cover themselves in bug spray and stay indoors unless it was necessary to be outside.

"[Making the trip] would have been fun, definitely fun. But player safety was the No. 1 concern," shortstop Jordy Mercer said. "It didn't work out, but maybe one of these days we can take another trip."

Around the horn

• Cole and Ryan Vogelsong attended the Pittsburgh Penguins' playoff game against the Washington Capitals on Wednesday night. Cole's enthusiastic cheering and jeering made him an unexpected trending topic on social media, and he was still excited about the game on Friday.

"The hockey game was a lot of fun. Gosh, I had an unbelievable time," Cole said. "Those tickets were amazing. What a great sport. ... What a tremendous experience. I just feel fortunate we were able to engage in that kind of stuff and support the other teams."

Jung Ho Kang has returned to the Pirates from his Triple-A rehab assignment, and so has interpreter H.K. Kim, who played a vital role in Kang's recovery and rehabilitation.

"H.K.'s happy to be back," Hurdle quipped. "He got sent to the Minors as well."

• Left-hander Brandon Waddell, the Pirates' fifth-round pick in last year's Draft, was named the Florida State League Player of the Month. Right-hander Mitch Keller, the Bucs' second-round pick in the 2014 Draft, was named the South Atlantic League Player of the Month.