First Pitch: Something, Something, Cliché

I love cities with a grid system. It makes driving simple. Bradenton doesn’t have a true grid system, but it’s to the point where I’ve been here a week, and I’m already to that point where you drive from home to work without really focusing on where to turn or what street to take. There are some strange things about the layout. For example, you can’t just drive down 17th Avenue to get to McKechnie. If you try it, you reach a dead end. Instead, you have to drive down a block, find a cross street, go around the golf course that is separating 17th Avenue, and pick up where 17th continues on the other side. It seems like they shouldn’t be able to call two separate streets by the same name if the street doesn’t continuously run from one end to the other.

I mention this because I think about this when I think about clichés in Spring Training. You’re cruising along in an interview, then all of a sudden you hit a dead end. A question gets a clichéd response. You end up having to work around that, driving down a block, driving around the obstruction, and picking up where you left off to get what you were looking for.

As I wrote earlier tonight, clichés are true in the short-term, but they tell us nothing in the long-term. I’ve talked about two of them this week. Today I talked about the idea of pitchers “getting work in”. A few days ago I looked at Jose Tabata and how he’s in “the best shape of his life” and hustling and performing well in a small sample size during Spring Training.

All of this stuff is important to note. A.J. Burnett struggled today, but the bigger news is that he got to a point where he’s now starting to throw his curveball. That’s one step closer to being ready for the regular season. Wandy Rodriguez was doing the same thing, just with better results today. Still, the goal is the same, to be ready for the regular season.

Jose Tabata is in great shape and playing well. I’ll be writing about Tony Sanchez this week, who is also in great shape, and learning a lot from catching the veteran pitchers in camp. These are all important things. It’s great to see Tabata and Sanchez falling in “the best shape of their lives” territory. It’s great that Tabata is hustling and hitting, or that Sanchez is getting experience with the big league staff. The only problem with this is that it doesn’t answer the questions we want answers to.

Is Tabata going to revive his career in 2013?

Is Sanchez going to start hitting?

Will Burnett and Rodriguez have good seasons?

The clichés don’t answer these questions. Instead, they provide information about the steps that lead to those answers. We don’t know if Burnett will repeat his 2012 season, but we do know that he’s now to the point where he’s starting to throw his curveball. When Clint Hurdle came out to remove him today, he joked that this time last year, Burnett wasn’t even throwing. The right-hander ended up throwing 202.1 innings in 2012, and he didn’t start throwing until March 21st. So the fact that he’s already throwing curveballs on March 4th is a good sign of his progress getting ready for the season. Tabata and Sanchez getting in better shape is also a good sign. But none of this guarantees any answers to the questions asked above.

As I wrote in tonight’s notebook, that’s the frustrating thing about these clichés. We spend months over the off-season waiting for an actual sign of how the season will go, then Spring Training comes along and we find that we’ve got more waiting to do.

Daily Photos

A few photos from McKechnie today.

Josh Harrison

Josh Harrison

Felix Pie

Felix Pie

Darren Ford making a running catch at the wall.

Darren Ford making a running catch at the wall.

Kris Johnson

Kris Johnson

Alex Presley making a throw from center field.

Alex Presley making a throw from center field.

A.J. Burnett

A.J. Burnett

Links and Notes

**Pirates Notebook: Clichés Are True in the Short Term, Useless in the Long Term.

**Draft Prospect Watch: Week Three Recap.

**WBC Notes: Another Player Out For Pirates.

Tim Williams

Author: Tim Williams

Tim is the owner and editor in chief of Pirates Prospects. He started the site in January 2009, and turned it into his full time job during the 2011 season. Prior to starting Pirates Prospects, Tim worked with AccuScore.com, providing MLB, NHL, and NFL coverage to various national media outlets, including ESPN Insider, USA Today, Yahoo Sports, and the Wall Street Journal. He also writes the annual Prospect Guide, which is sold through the site. Tim lives in Bradenton, where he provides live coverage all year of Spring Training, mini camp, instructs, the Bradenton Marauders, and the GCL Pirates.

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