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Hurdle pleased with offense's versatility thus far

MLB.com

MILWAUKEE -- Somewhat obscured by a shower of power, the Pirates come off one of their most varied offensive series in Chicago. In three games against the Cubs they scored with home runs, by taking extra bags on the basepaths, on sacrifice flies, even without the aid of a hit.

It also added up to a productive series: The 17 runs were the most for the club in a three-game set since it totaled 21 in an Interleague series June 21-23 in Anaheim against the Angels.

Full Game Coverage

MILWAUKEE -- Somewhat obscured by a shower of power, the Pirates come off one of their most varied offensive series in Chicago. In three games against the Cubs they scored with home runs, by taking extra bags on the basepaths, on sacrifice flies, even without the aid of a hit.

It also added up to a productive series: The 17 runs were the most for the club in a three-game set since it totaled 21 in an Interleague series June 21-23 in Anaheim against the Angels.

Full Game Coverage

"It showed our versatility, our capabilities," said a pleased Clint Hurdle. "You always wonder if you can do something, but after you've done it, you know. I think this offense will continue to grow, be gritty, and beat you in a couple of different ways."

The manager has preached the importance of opportunistic offense for "playing longer," getting deeper into the postseason. Yep, Hurdle does not shy away from that long-range agenda, not after he blamed St. Louis pitching's shutdown of the Bucs' big swings for last fall's Division Series exit.

"Quick-strike long-ball, guys able to put down a bunt or steal a base, even score without a hit. We've shown it," Hurdle said. "I like some of the things that have shown up in the first nine games offensively."

It is, of course, the payoff for hard work during Spring Training, when subtleties aren't as obvious as when they impact the standings. But they were obvious all along to the manager. For instance, you can't teach speed and the Pirates' team speed is on the low end. But you can teach reaction.

"We had more dirt-ball reads -- taking a base on catchers' blocks of pitches -- in this Spring Training than in my first three springs combined," Hurdle said. "We've got guys looking to make things happen, and their confidence for that has grown."

Tom Singer is a reporter for MLB.com and writes an MLBlog Change for a Nickel. He can also be found on Twitter @Tom_Singer.

 

Pittsburgh Pirates