By: Josh Taylor
PITTSBURGH (KDKA) – The Pirates open the 2018 season in both the best and worst of possible situations. They enter their home opener at PNC Park with a record of 3-0 after a sweep of the Detroit Tigers on the road at Comerica Park, but they also prepare for the Minnesota Twins on a morning with cold temperatures and snow on the ground.
“I saw the snow last night driving through it,” said manager Clint Hurdle. “I managed in Colorado. We had some snow in Colorado far back in June. My folks and kids were pretty excited about it. You wake up to a winter wonderland that’s beautiful, you look at the green grass and you get ready to go. It’s Opening Day.”
Having two of their scheduled games postponed because of inclement weather in Detroit, the Pirates were forced to play a split doubleheader Sunday before flying back late in the evening. The players and coaching staff didn’t return home until 2:30 a.m. But, the players say the weather and conditions from the weekend series have them better prepared for their first home game in the wintry elements.
“I feel like after a couple innings you stop thinking about it,” said first baseman Josh Bell. “You get into your routine. The game takes care of itself if you prepare the right way.”
“It’s tough to get loose and ready to play, but it’s baseball,” said utility man Adam Frazier. “We’re playing in Pittsburgh and we’ve got to be ready to play.”
The attendance at Monday’s game is also in question as fan sentiment about the team has waned since the trades of outfielder Andrew McCutchen and pitcher Gerrit Cole in January. The cold temperatures will probably dictate how many fans are in the stands.
“It’s just another game for us to be honest,” Frazier said. “We understand if the fans aren’t there. It’s freezing outside. Honestly, I probably wouldn’t be out there watching it myself, but we’ve just got to go out and play baseball no matter who’s in the stands. If the atmosphere is great, then that just builds into our energy and helps us play.”
“As long as we get a W, that’s all that matters,” Bell said. “We don’t care how it looks.”
Jameson Taillon will make his first start of the season for the Pirates against Lance Lynn of the Twins.
The Pirates batting order will be:
Josh Harrison 2B
Gregory Polanco RF
Starling Marte CF
Josh Bell 1B
Corey Dickerson LF
Francisco Cervelli C
Colin Moran 3B
Jordy Mercer SS
Meanwhile, the Pirates have placed pitcher Joe Musgrove on the 10-day disabled list with a muscle strain in his right shoulder.
Musgrove, who was one of four players acquired by the Pirates in the trade of pitcher Gerrit Cole in mid-January, was scheduled to pitch his first game of the season Thursday against the Cincinnati Reds. Discomfort in the same shoulder forced Musgrove to miss time during Spring Training in Bradenton, Fla.
While his teammates were in Detroit for their opening series against the Tigers, Musgrove was in Florida pitching in a minor league exhibition to get ready for the season, throwing 92 pitches before being deemed ready to pitch on regular rest Thursday.
To take Musgrove’s place on the roster, the Pirates have recalled right-hander Clay Holmes from Triple-A Indianapolis.