PITTSBURGH (NewsRadio 1020 KDKA) – It may be hard to believe, but in a week the Pirates will be back in action. They open the 2014 season Monday, March 31 against the Chicago Cubs at PNC Park.

To get you ready, KDKA Radio’s Larry Richert and John Shumway are broadcasting from Pirates Spring Training in Bradenton, Fla.

Despite the cold weather, the players are excited to come back to Pittsburgh to start a new quest for a world championship.

Pirates second baseman and native Pittsburgher Neil Walker knows how special last year was for the team and the fans. What is the feeling in the locker room heading into a new season following such a successful one last year?

“We’ve set the bar [higher] this past year and it’s obviously taken a long time for this organization to get back to this point,” says Walker “Having the full fan base back after last season is exciting to know.”

Even with the winter we are having here in Pittsburgh, closer Jason Grilli says he cannot wait to head north and get the season underway.

“Going to back to Pittsburgh, there is going to be plenty of warmth there just with the reception from the Pittsburgh fans,” says Grilli.

Is there an advantage or disadvantage to playing in cold weather when you’re a pitcher?

“Pitchers, once you get going, we don’t’ worry too much about the cold because we are moving the most out there,” Grilli says.

The team has started using the mantra, “Now” putting the success of the past season behind them and focusing on winning a championship this year.

“We live in a society that takes today for granted,” Manager Clint Hurdle said. “We don’t have time here with his ball club to have just another day.”

Hurdle wants his players to focus on winning.

“We aren’t just trying to stay in the middle of things. We’re trying to push things forward,” says Hurdle.

Bucco’s broadcaster and former pitcher Bob Walk knows what it’s like to have a successful season and come back the next to try to do it again. How hard is it to come back and improve on the previous year?

Walk says it would be difficult to play much better than the team did in the regular season.

“It’s tough to win 90-some games,” says Walk. “The team wants to improve [in] the post season.”

Walk explains that winning the division and going farther in the playoffs are goals the team want to accomplish.

Listen to the KDKA Morning News with Larry Richert and John Shumway weekdays from 5 to 9 a.m. on NewsRadio 1020 KDKA.

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