Clint Hurdle met with the media this afternoon, discussing the upcoming Wild Card game against the Cincinnati Reds. For playoff roster information, check out this post from earlier.
Hurdle discussed the approach with the game, the one game format, and of course, the opponent.
On the significance of the game:
“This is significant for our city. This is significant for our fanbase. This is part of what I envisioned when I signed up here.”
The feel of PNC Park:
“This park is not only intimate, it’s electric. There’s been nights out here where it looks almost like there was an Oakland Raider football game about ready to break out when our people dress as Pirates. It’s just cool! The synergy downtown. The energy that gets brought into the ballpark, obviously for so many fans to have this opportunity to visit that feel-good they had before. That’s special. I really like to see other people enjoy themselves. I get enjoyment out of watching other people find joy. I believe we’re going to put something out there tomorrow night that’s going to bring a lot of joy to a lot of different people in a lot of different levels.”
Does the one game format add any extra weight to the team?
“When you envision something and you believe in something that a lot of people can’t see, and don’t believe in, and you get to that point where it’s tangible and it’s real, it’s not a weight at all. It’s somewhat of an accomplishment. And it’s somewhat of tangible evidence that you’re heading in the right direction. One thing we’ve tried to do since I’ve been here is build something of significance.”
How the Pirates match up against the Reds this season:
“I like the ability that we’ve been able to show playing these Reds, to score runs. I like the ability we’ve shown, specifically in our 19 game matchups, to pitch. We’ve had a very competitive series. Over the course of the season, I like the grit factor of our club. The lessons learned over the last few years I think played out substantially for us this year.”
Hurdle was asked how Liriano’s surprising season parallels the Pirates surprising season. After some brief thinking, he answered:
“He’s a Pirate. There’s a lot of Pirate in every guy in there. And they’ve got a flawed manager.”
That last part came with a laugh from Hurdle.
How will he approach the one game format?
“The game will approach you. I don’t think you can force things. I use the analogy, it’s playing golf. You’re playing the golf course, you’re not playing your opponent. The game is going to present challenges. There might be a situation where you pinch hit maybe an at-bat earlier. I also believe there needs to be some continuity, the things you’ve done to keep the players in rhyme and rhythm to what they’re accustomed to. Because the first 911 I shoot out, they’re going to feel. The urgency can be a positive, but the urgency can bring a negative connotation if it’s mis-fired.”
The Pirates pitching in PNC Park
“We’ve pitched appropriately, according to our ballpark. It’s not part of the pitching plan, but it’s talked about as well if you’re going to make mistakes, you want to get the ball driven to the left-center field gap. There’s still a lot of grass out there for hitters to find base hits. We’ve pitched very well in our own ballpark. We’re very confident. That would be one of our biggest strengths.”
“We have our Triple-A staff here. They played them 15 times during the season. They saw Billy Hamilton multiple times. So we have information from them, on different ways to combat a very aggressive, a very talented base stealer. There’s different ways you can do it. I haven’t seen anyone this dynamic since Vince Coleman, Willie Wilson. Those types of players, the impactful base stealer.”
Hurdle said that the team could use several methods to prevent Hamilton from stealing, including holding the ball, slide steps, and doing some different things with fielders. However…
“The best thing to do is to keep him off base.”