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.

Enjoy this story? Pirates Prospects will be switching to a subscription site on 4/13, so that we can continue bringing you the best Pirates coverage there is. For a very small monthly price, you can continue getting articles like this, along with coverage from every minor league city. Get more information here, and subscribe today!

Share This Article

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.

First Pitch: Minor League Camp Officially Begins

Next Story »

First Pitch: Some Early Thoughts From Big League Camp

Latest Analysis

  • Keller Supak Hinsz

    Even With the New Draft Rules, the Pirates Are Still Loading Up on Projectable Pitchers

    1 day ago

    From 2008-2011, the Pittsburgh Pirates spent a lot of resources on projectable pitchers out of high school. So far, this approach has led to breakout performances from ...

    Read More
  • Josh Bell made the move to first base over the off-season. (Photo credit: David Hague)

    Why Should You Care About Prospects?

    3 days ago

    Yesterday I had a shorter day than usual. The Pirates had cuts at the MLB level, and a road game. The day was shortened at Pirate City, ...

    Read More
  • Gregory Polanco

    Q&A: Trading Prospects For Rentals, Polanco Concerns, Meadows vs Appel

    4 days ago

    I missed the Q&A last week due to a common problem in Spring Training: I forgot what day it was. It was around 6:00 that I was ...

    Read More
  • Nick Kingham f

    Improving His Two-Seam Fastball will Make Nick Kingham a More Effective Pitcher

    5 days ago

    With Jameson Taillon returning from Tommy John surgery, and unlikely to make an impact at the Major League level early in the year, the top prospect to ...

    Read More
  • Arquimedes Caminero 3

    The Roster Situations That Could Impact the Makeup of the Pirates Bullpen

    7 days ago

    There are less than two weeks remaining in Spring Training, and the one area where the Pittsburgh Pirates had actual position battles is heating up. There were ...

    Read More
  • Jordan Luplow

    How the Pirates are Trying to Stay Ahead of the Curve With the New Draft Rules

    1 week ago

    The 2011 Collective Bargaining Agreement brought a lot of changes to Major League Baseball. The biggest change for the Pittsburgh Pirates came in the draft. From 2008-2011, ...

    Read More
  • Alen Hanson

    The Key For Alen Hanson to Help the Pirates in the Majors This Year

    1 week ago

    When the Pittsburgh Pirates moved Alen Hanson to second base last year, part of the plan was to get him to the majors faster by putting him at ...

    Read More
  • Tyler Glasnow 2

    What the Stats Don’t Tell You About Tyler Glasnow

    1 week ago

    The stat line for Tyler Glasnow’s start at Pirate City yesterday looked great: 3 IP, 0 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 1 BB, 1 K. The lone run ...

    Read More
  • JaCoby Jones Josh Bell

    JaCoby Jones Did Fine in the Move to Shortstop, But Needs to Cut Down on Strikeouts

    2 weeks ago

    The Pittsburgh Pirates drafted JaCoby Jones as an outfielder in the third round of the 2013 draft, then surprised everyone the following year when they moved him ...

    Read More
  • Cody Dickson is a lefty with the upside of a middle of the rotation starter. (Photo Credit: Mark Olson)

    The Mental Adjustment that Led to Cody Dickson’s Dominant 2014 Second Half

    2 weeks ago

    Trusting his stuff and not trying to do too much — that has been the key for left-handed pitcher Cody Dickson so far in his professional baseball ...

    Read More
  • Browse More Articles

    More