BRADENTON (NewsRadio 1020 KDKA) – Larry and John continued their Spring Training journey Thursday from Bradenton, Florida with visits from manager Clint Hurdle, pitcher Jeff Locke, broadcaster Bob Walk and former Pirate catcher Mike “Spanky” LaValliere.

The big story at Spring Training is Andrew McCutchen and his hair cut. Pirates skipper Clint Hurdle says he thinks, “It’s great!”

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When asked about it being the top story up in Pittsburgh Hurdle says, “That just lets you know other people don’t have a whole lot to talk about.”

Hurdle then talked about Jung Ho Kang, the South Korean prospect signed by the Pirates over the winter. Kang has been struggling thus far in Spring Training.

However, Hurdle says they expect to see him in Pittsburgh.

“We didn’t sign this guy as a project. We believe that through time and practice and reps that he is going to find a comfort zone. (He is) the best position player in South Korea,” Hurdle said.

Another thing Hurdle pointed out to those that think Kang is a bust is that he has only had 27 at bats in Spring Training.

Like everyone else Larry and John have talked to, Hurdle says the goal is to win the division and “play meaningful games in October.”

Hurdle also talked about how much of the roster is set for the first time in a long time for the Pirates. But, one of the question marks is the fifth spot in the starting rotation.

Jeff Locke discussed the competition with Vance Worley and how he wants the spot, but also wants what is best for the team.

“We’re just trying to find any way to make this club better,” Locke says about him and Worley. “We both feel like it’s a better club when we’re both on it whether one of us is starting, one of us in the bullpen. It’s out of our control; it’s going to be decided (by management).”

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One pitcher who made the Pirates a better team in the early 90s is Bob Walk.

Walk says he gets embarrassed when someone calls him great, but Larry and John reminded him he did earn a World Series ring while he was a member of the Phillies.

Walk talked about the expectations for this year and what the team learned from two back-to-back playoff appearances.

“I think one of the lessons you take out of the previous two years is that it was a lot of fun, but that play-in game is a very stressful situation. You don’t know what can happen in those nine innings. Your postseason might be just three hours,” Walk said.

Walk adds the number one goal for the team is to win the division so they can go right to a series. He says one big advantage is being able to set up the pitching rotation the way the team wants.

One of the catchers Walk spent a lot of time with while with the Pirates was Mike “Spanky” LaValliere.

Spanky now spends his springs helping the Bucco catchers prepare for the season. He joined Larry and John to talk about the loss of Russell Martin.

While he says they will miss Martin, new catcher Francisco Cervelli will do a good job for the team.

“One thing to keep in mind, the New York Yankees let Russell Martin go for a reason and we were the beneficiary of having Russ catch for us the last couple year. He did a fabulous job, but the reason why they let him go was Francisco Cervelli and we’re getting a very talented player,” says LaValliere.

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

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