PITTSBURGH (93-7 The Fan)-Pirates General Manager Neal Huntington held his final show of the spring on Sunday from Sarasota, Fla. prior to the Pirates/Orioles Spring Training game.
The show opened with Pirates Broadcaster and host Greg Brown talking to Huntington about the health of projected Opening Day starter Francisco Liriano, who left his last start with tightness in his groin.
“He is day-to-day,” Huntington said. “Not a major concern at this time. The focus now is on trying to get rid of it while still getting him ready.”
Brown asked Huntington if Liriano could still make the Opening Day start without having another start in Spring Training.
“He can,” Huntington said. “It’s not the way you draw it up, but we can still get him ready and stretched out as long as the groin cooperates. If there is any doubt or risk, he won’t pitch.”
Huntington also commented on the surgery to back up catcher Chris Stewart and the decision to have Tony Sanchez open with the club.
Huntington said that Jeff Locke’s setback came at the worst time for him to be ready to reach his number of pitches needed for Opening Day.
Edison Volquez, who has struggled this spring, showed some good signs in his final three innings of work in his last start and has Huntington feeling better about his role.
“The mindset is to build on those last three innings,” Huntington said. “We signed him with the thought that we would need six starters. If Jeff (Locke) stayed healthy, we would have a real interesting decision to make.”
Huntington also talked about the situation as to who might make the club to share the role at first base with Gaby Sanchez
Greg Brown also asked Huntington who may have surprised him this spring and his answer may surprise you.
“It’s hard to call Andrew McCutchen a surprise, but he has been locked in since pitch one,” Huntington said.
Huntington told Brown that last year’s chemistry in the clubhouse may have been the best he has ever been around. So, what does he think about the atmosphere in this year’s clubhouse?
“It’s different,” Huntington said. “Not better or worse, but different.”
He said this team has such a great group of players who have matured and grown.
“They truly care about each other,” Huntington said. “They want to win. They expect to win.”
Greg Brown also addressed with Huntington the reports that outfielder Starling Marte has rejected a multi-year offer with the Pirates.
“I won’t comment on that,” Huntington said. “The hope is the only time they would go public is when they announce a deal.”
He admits sometimes things leak out to the media, but it’s not a benefit to negotiate through the media.
In the final segment of his show, Huntington addressed the expectations of the 2014 season and the thought many feel that this club may take a step back.
“We are always going to have to be a team who exceeds the projections,” Huntington said. “We are going to have flaws in the lineup and guys are going to need to step up and exceed expectations. We are never going to win the off-season and we are going to need to count on young players.”
Listen to the full Neal Huntington Show Below: