BRADENTON — Bob Nutting, the Pirates Chairman of the Board, addressed the team this morning at Pirate City. His message this year was different from a year prior –the expectations are higher heading into 2012.
“We have talked about expectations, but I really believe — and [General Manager] Neal [Huntington] addressed this head on yesterday — I really believe the level of expectation is different this year,” Nutting said. “I think the tone is different. And it needs to be. We got a glimpse last year of what this organization can do, the tremendous support and reaction that we got from Pittsburgh, and from the fans. That was very satisfying for those in the clubhouse who had seen that. We need to build on that going forward. I think it’s absolutely different, same path, but further along.”
“I always enjoy getting a chance to kick off spring training with these guys. It was clear that we are talking about very high expectation levels for this season. We talked a little bit about the tremendous achievement from the first part of next year and how we expect and need to finish this year, pull all the way through. Once again reaffirm that we are here to build a championship organization. We’re here to win a National League Central Championship. And that’s the goal, that’s what we’re absolutely committed to get done this year. They needed to hear that from me. But they’ve heard that reinforced from Clint [Hurdle], from Frank [Coonelly], from Neal [Huntington] throughout the process.”
*** Nutting met with media shortly after addressing the big league team and discussed contract extensions with some of the core players. He said there is interest and flexibility financially.
“We said from the very beginning that we have a plan to build talent and then to retain, and build on talent that are key pieces of the organization. Neal has a clear understanding of what those key pieces are. So yes, that’s important, and something that we need to continue to workout. Without addressing specific players, but you have seen a continued improvement in talent at the club, as we begin to find ways to ensure that that talent can stay with the club, and continue to contribute. That certainty has always been part of the program. We are indeed reaching the point, that it may not be absolute urgency, but we absolutely have a commitment and a desire to see that happen.”