Clint Hurdle held his first press conference with the media today at the end of the first workout day. A summary of the interview and some analysis follows, with the video at the bottom of this article. For his comments on Pedro Alvarez, and for comments from Alvarez and video of Alvarez fielding, check out the earlier article: The Progression Of Pedro Alvarez At First Base.
**Hurdle talked about what the Pirates could do to get their pitchers performing better at the plate. He noted that just showing the numbers will help the pitchers understand, as well as making it a focus point this Spring. Last year the Pirates sent their starting pitchers to minor league camps to get extra at-bats, and that will continue this year. Minor league games don’t start until the 18th. Pirates pitchers last year finished 27th in WAR for batting, with a -0.7 WAR. If they manage to turn that around and become a top ten team, then the difference could be at least an extra win.
**I previewed all of the position battles this week, noting that there will be a battle for the fifth starter job, as well as battles in the bullpen and for the final bench spot. Hurdle confirmed that there is a spot open at the end of the rotation, as well as spots on the bench and in the bullpen.
**On whether Charlie Morton would be ready for Opening Day: “Charlie is on target.”
**When talking about making the Wild Card games the last two years: “Our goal now is to push it forward and win the division.”
**Hurdle talked about Jung-ho Kang at length. He said that the last name is pronounced “Gung,” which is about the fifth different version we’ve heard. He said that Kang will start off getting reps at shortstop until he gets comfortable, and will eventually move to third to get comfortable there. If that works out, they will move him to second base and get him some work there. So far, I’ve only seen Kang at shortstop. You can see video of him at shortstop here.
**Hurdle said the Pirates interviewed six internal candidates for the bench coach position, before deciding to split the workload of the job up between several people. The six candidates were Dean Treanor, Brad Fischer, Tom Prince, Rick Sofield, Dave Jauss, and Nick Leyva. He said that if they want to eventually transition to a bench coach, they can do that. This is definitely an interesting approach, and I think it could have a chance to lead to better results, since you focus on everyone’s strengths, rather than expecting one person to be strong in every area.