PITTSBURGH (KDKA) – The Pirates (3-0) are undefeated as they return to Pittsburgh for Monday’s home opener.
The outfield at PNC Park was covered in snow this morning, but crews have been hard at work to make sure everything is good to go in time for the first pitch at 1:05 p.m.
“We’re gonna be ready to play baseball at 1:05 today. It’s going to be a beautiful day. Last year’s opener was tough because it was so cold, but today, not withstanding this precipitation in the morning, we’re going to get up to nearly 50 degrees today. The sun should shine, it should be a great day for baseball,” Pirates President Frank Coonelly said.
Jameson Taillon will get the ball for the Pirates today. Coonelly and the organization have high hopes for the young pitcher this season.
“Remarkably tough young man physically and mentally, Texas Tough is what I like to call him, but terrific story. He’s is determined to have a realty terrific year. He looked great in Spring Training, so we’re really excited about what Jameson can do. He’s also become an emerging leader on this team as well, not only for leading the starting pitchers with his breakfast club down at Spring Training that I’m sure will continue here, but a leader of the entire organization. He’s a young man with a strong head on his shoulders and he has a strong right arm as well, so we’re looking forward to him taking the mound today at PNC Park,” Coonelly said.
This offseason featured a couple of very tough decisions for the Pirates as they traded away Andrew McCutchen and Gerrit Cole. Both of those moves did not sit well with fans.
Coonelly said those tough decisions were made in the best interest of the organization. He also said the moves made the organization stronger.
“It really reminds me how much the fans of Pittsburgh and the people of Pittsburgh love the Pirates. They care deeply about this organization and they let us know their opinions and that’s terrific. We love to hear their opinions. What we have said to our fans is that we take the responsibility of this community treasure known as the Pittsburgh Pirates extraordinarily seriously and we’re going to make every decision, even tough ones like the ones we had to make this offseason, every decision that’s in the best interest of this organization moving forward,” Coonelly said.
“We know it’s tough particularly with a player like Andrew McCutchen, who gave us nine great years here in Pittsburgh, fan favorite for all the right reasons. It’s tough to see him go somewhere else, but we did it for the best interest of the organization and we think we’re a stronger organization than we were last year and we’re really looking forward to getting this season going in 2018.”
Coonelly also pointed to the fact that some of the players they received in those trades are already part of the team at the major league level.
“We needed to make the organization stronger – 75 wins and 78 wins, which is what we had the last two years, isn’t good enough for our organization, it isn’t good enough for this city. Our fans deserve better than that. We think we’re a stronger organization now, both with three of the guys that we received in the trades are here at the major league club, three are in the minor leagues working their way up to Pittsburgh. We think we’re a stronger organization. There’s more coming through the minor league system. But, we have a strong core of players here and I think some of that was forgotten during the offseason because people were upset with particularly Andrew, but we have a very strong core of position players, a young, emerging starting pitching group that we’re really excited about that got a lot of experience last year, led by Jameson Taillon, who will start today so we like our team, we like our chances and we’re really thrilled we’re getting it going and playing the game on the field,” Coonelly said.
The good news for fans is that there are still some tickets available for today’s home opener, which is a bit of a rarity.
“We still have tickets available. It’s unusual to have a walkup on Opening Day, but we could have a walkup today. Tickets are available, we released some standing room only tickets the other day. They’re affordable so if fans want to make a last-minute decision to come out to the ballpark, there are going to be opportunities for them to come and watch the home opener in Pittsburgh,” Coonelly said.