As you might expect, the Pittsburgh Pirates new coaching staff has made some changes. They have made some tweaks to how things were done in the past. We are starting to discover through the various beat writers and exceptional coverage of Pirates Spring Training from numerous blogs, some of the decisions that added to the downfall of the 2010 Pirates.
Things such as allowing runners that reached first base to rather easily reach other bases. We now learned that Charlie Morton didn’t throw his sinker last season. The Pirates baserunning was horrendous, the defense, well you get it, it could go on and on. But that’s over. Let’s look ahead.
We will be pointing out some of the subtle changes we noticed while in Spring Training. The first up is the pregame for the Pirates. Big changes. Every player has a place to be, every coach has a place to be and watching it is very enjoyable. Change for change sake is inevitable and typically doesn’t bear a return on investment, but this is seriously good stuff.
We trust that you get to watch BP at some point in the season. It’s nice to see the team working. It’s fun to watch Hurdle try to play first–he’s that guy on your softball team that is such a loudmouth and just a little too big for you to tell him that he should just move to catcher.
One of the many things we noticed was the Pirates emphasis on conditioning and base running. We aren’t crazy that the Pirates manager Clint Hurdle has talked about “running the bases like drunken sailors on shore leave.” Those type of comments might seem fun, but you must admit they scare you too.
The Pirates are committed to improving on the basepaths. They are working on base running during batting practice which is not only an excellent display of time management, but it is an additional layer of conditioning of the players. Every player has somewhere to be during pregame. It’s refreshingly systematic and moved like a Cartier watch during our time in Florida. Let’s trust it pays dividends when the real games begin.
Some general observation of pre-game and batting practice:
Players surround a new batter in the cage while he tries to get his first two bunts down. The players stand about ten feet away.
It impressed us to watch Clint Hurdle take the field on numerous occassions and play 1B. His ability to pick balls out of the dirt didn’t impress us.
Coach Silverio is serious about this base running improvement. He watches intently. He provides verbal feedback to every player. Every player goes through the running drills. No one is missed.
Pedro Alvarez might suck at bunting, but he absolutely destroyed at least fifteen BP bombs during the couple days we were down in Florida.
Corey Wimberley was playing SS during a pregame and threw wildly over Hurdle’s head. You could visibly see how badly it impacted Wimberley who took about ten seconds after the throw to go through movements with his hands and arms. The guy is doing everything he can to make this team. When he moved to the OF later in the warmups he was tracking down balls all over centerfield. The downside might have been nobody was watching, but me.
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