By John Shumway

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BRADENTON, Fla. (KDKA) — Like clockwork, the Pittsburgh Pirates have been coming to Bradenton, Florida, to restock their supply of talent for the long voyage to October baseball.

On the field the stars of tomorrow do their best to impress the coaching staff, while the veterans of recent years look to rebound from last year’s disappointment.

“You know, we are just not thinking about last year,” says Pirates’ right fielder Gregory Polanco.

The off-season saw the departures of Andrew McCutchen and Gerrit Cole, but this new crew of Pirates are taking shape, and to Sean Rodriguez they look “a lot better than expected.”

KDKA’s John Shumway Reports:

Pitcher Steven Brault says the team is driven.

“All the young talent we have is incredible, and if you look at the smaller market teams that are successful, it starts with a basis like this,” he says.

The Pirates are in one of the toughest divisions in the major leagues, and Chicago and St. Louis have stocked up in the off-season. Jordy Mercer says forget what you see on paper.

“We’re going to play hard, there’s no doubt about it. We’re going to compete. We’ve got a bunch of hungry guys, there’s no question about that,” said Mercer.

Any off-season bitterness over the superstars’ departures has been set aside as energy misspent.

“It’s nothing that we can do,” says Francisco Cervelli. “Nothing I can do. I don’t work in the front office, I work here. My job is – play baseball and that’s it.”

The players see lots of talent in the off-season acquisitions and their confidence in the new guys builds with each Spring Training game.

The Pirates set the bar of expectation for the fans with their playoff game in October of 2013. Fans don’t want to see any back sliding.

Closer Felipe Rivero puts it this way, “They are expecting us to win, I know that. But this is baseball, so we can’t control what happens, so we’re going to go out and do our best.”

Josh Harrison adds, “Fans will still be fans. It’s the game of baseball and anything can happened. We have a job to do and we control what we doing here.”

Cervelli adds, “We’ve got good guys here, let’s make it happen.”

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