BRADENTON, Fla. (KDKA) — As they took to McKechnie Field for a final workout Thursday morning, it was against a backdrop of published pundits not giving them much of a shot to return to the playoffs.

Jason Grilli: “I don’t read the paper that often.”

KDKA’s John Shumway: “You just ignore it?”

Grilli: “Just ignore it, best not to read it.”

“We don’t worry about them because they are not in here with us,” added Josh Harrison. “We worry about ourselves and we let the rest take care of itself.”

In fact, the players won’t worry about fan expectations either.

“There’s not a person in the world that expects more from us than ourselves,” said Travis Snider. “And that’s the mantra we’re going to keep all year.”

The Pirates are coming north lose and ready.

“It’s great. It’s a relaxed atmosphere, there’s been a lot of great work this spring,” Neil Walker said. “Guys know where they are individually, where we are as a team and what we need to do to push each other and be successful.”

Russell Martin’s confidence comes from what he’s seen from the Pirates’ pitchers.

“You feel confident knowing that you’re not relying solely on five guys,” the Pirates’ catcher said. “There are six, seven guys that could pitch and be competitive with on the mound, and it makes my job a lot easier.”

There’s confidence all over the diamond.

“We’re a young core group, add in some veterans, and some younger guys are going to step up, and they will,” said Jordy Mercer. “It’s going to be a fun ride.”

And they have a singular goal.

“Win some hardware,” added Mercer, “and I like what we see and have in this room; and it only gets better. It’s stronger, there’s more experience, there’s plenty of talent.”

And the guys say fans are a big part of the equation.

“I don’t think they realize how that helps us inside the clubhouse,” said Gabby Sanchez. “You feel the support, you feel the energy. It brings life to baseball.”

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