PITTSBURGH (KDKA) – It is spring and hope springs eternal for Pittsburgh Pirates fans.
The Pirates will take on the Cubs on Opening Day at 1:35 p.m. at PNC Park.
While the players are obviously excited to get the season going, so is President Frank Coonelly.
“We are ready to go. It’s our time, we’re ready, super excited to get the 2013 season going. The ballpark looks beautiful. I know the fans are ready. Our guys are ready to go. Can’t wait until 1:35. We have a lot of great activities and opportunities here on the field before 1:35, but we’re looking for the first pitch and getting the season started,” Coonelly said.
Taking the mound on Opening Day will be ace A.J. Burnett, who went 16-10 with a 3.51 ERA last year.
“A.J. developed a very special relationship with Pittsburgh last year. The fans really gravitated to him right away and he to them as well. He was blown away by the reaction. I know that he is super excited to get going and to get the season started for the Pittsburgh Pirates fans,” Coonelly said.
Coonelly believes that the Pirates’ strengths will play a key role in helping to end a 20-year skid of losing seasons.
“Challenges are real like every year, but I think we’re ready. I think, as I said, it’s our time. The strengths have to be starting pitching. We have some guys in reserve coming off the DL sometime in May, hopefully in Francisco Liriano and Charlie Morton. We are looking for the starters that we have here to get off to a good start. We had some guys really step up in Spring Training. Starling Marte looks like he’s ready to be the everyday left fielder that we think he can be. Gaby Sanchez looks like a completely different player. He had a much different offseason. He was able to get himself strong and get his legs strong. We think we have a formidable lineup and we’re ready for the challenges that the National League Central brings,” Coonelly said.
It goes without saying that star centerfielder Andrew McCutchen had a great 2012 season. McCutchen had a .327 batting average with 31 home runs and 96 RBIs, which helped earn him the Silver Slugger Award in addition to a Gold Glove for his work in the outfield.
“We’ll have an opportunity to present Andrew with both his Gold Glove and his Silver Slugger Award. It was an outstanding season for him and I know Andrew is looking to get to an even higher level in 2013,” Coonelly said.
KDKA-TV’s Heather Abraham asked Coonelly if he had any special message for the fans to start the season.
“It’s our time. We appreciate their support. They’ve been with us through thick and thin. It’s our time,” Coonelly said.
In addition to the product on the field are the products off the field. This year, the Pirates are debuting several new concession items.
“We have a concession stand that’s called the ‘Just For You’ stand. These items are also offered in the Hall of Fame Club. No fooling, but our Hall of Fame Club is open to everybody. Anybody that’s here at the game can come there. Also at the ‘Just For You’ stand, we have gluten-free and vegetarian options there,” Aramark General Manager Steve Musciano said.
If you’re not worried about calories, be sure to try out the new Brunch Burger, which is a bacon-cheeseburger on a glazed doughnut.
“You get your entire brunch and lunch on one burger,” Musciano said.
There will also be several new sausages to try, including a buffalo chicken option.