BRADENTON — The Pittsburgh Pirates took the field under the sunny skies at Pirate City on Friday at 10 AM for their first official full squad workout.
The club worked on conditioning, throwing programs, bunt plays. The infielders took grounders, the outfielders took balls off the center field wall, pitchers ran the bases, pitchers threw live batting practice, position players took batting practice on the fields and in the cages.
All and all, it was a successful first day.
“I think the first day went well,” Manager Clint Hurdle said. “We introduced a lot. We touched on a lot of fundamentals today, infielders handled the ball, pitchers handled the ball. We got a lot of bunting in, got some base running in. We played some baseball today. We hadn’t practiced baseball. We had a really good day.”
With new additions to the club this offseason like pitchers A.J. Burnett, Erik Bedard, infielders Clint Barmes and Casey McGehee, to name a few, Hurdle believes the club is a much better team then where they were on the first full squad workout prior to the 2011 season.
“We got to go prove it once the season starts, but we have a better ball club right now,” Hurdle said. “The guys that are back all have opportunities to get better and improve. We like the people we have internally. We like the additions we’ve made, the people we’ve brought in from outside. I think they’re all going to add value in their own specific ways.”
“I do believe that we got more depth then anytime that we had last year going in. There’s competition in some areas. The starting pitching depth is deeper then what we had last spring at this time. The bullpen depth is deeper than we had last spring. The player pool is deeper than what we had at this time [last year].
One addition to the Pirates was not at the first full squad workout. Infielder Anderson Hernandez has had issues the past few days with his visa, but Hurdle said that he will arrive to Bradenton, Fla., tonight, and will have his first workout tomorrow.
“Anderson Hernandez has been trying hard to get here, and it has not been his fault that he’s not here,” Hurdle said. “He’s had some complications that were out of his hand, out of his control for whatever reason. He’s disappointed, but he’ll be here tonight and play tomorrow.”
For the first time of the spring, pitchers threw live batting practice to hitters this afternoon. Bedard, Joel Hanrahan, Brad Lincon, James McDonald, Chris Resop, to name a few, threw “two innings” of work, and the Pirates hitters swung for the fences.
“We get them out there and have them throw 20, sit them down, then throw another 15 to just try and be aggressive with everything we’re doing moving forward, to build up stamina, build up endurance, get them up off on the right step on the first day,” Hurdle said. “It was a day of calibration for them. They’ve been throwing mounds, they’ve been throwing in the winter, they haven’t thrown to a lot of hitters, so today was a calibration. A lot of good feedback today. Some things we can touch upon tomorrow that we can be right on top of and have them as they continue to pitch and get ready for their first opportunity in a game.”
Pirates first spring training game is on Saturday, March 3 at Dunedin (Toronto).