BRADENTON (NewsRadio 1020 KDKA) – The “KDKA Morning News” with Larry Richert and John Shumway wrapped up their trip to Bradenton with an all-star cast of Pirates on their final day.
Pirates centerfielder Andrew McCutchen says Opening Day against the Cardinals is exciting, but the team is treating the game like any other.
“We treat every game the same, so we’re going to go out and play it as if it’s game 100,” McCutchen said.
After dealing with an injury for most of last season, McCutchen says this season he is healthy. He has already hit six home runs for the Pirates this spring. He hopes his success thus far will translate when the season starts.
“I’m looking forward to having a good start, a better start than I did last year and being able to jump start the season,” said McCutchen.
McCutchen has now been married for a little over a year and he says it has its “perks.”
“I can go home, I can talk to my wife, we have a sit down and she lets me air out when I need to and she listens and it’s great…That’s just one of the small things that’s great about marriage,” McCutchen said.
Pitcher Tony Watson says the behind the scenes work the team does in Florida is important to the team’s success.
“There’s a lot that goes into each day and the goal each day is to win your day and go out there and not have a wasted day and get your work in. There’s a lot of good stuff that happens on the back fields here,” Watson said.
Watson also says the team has good chemistry and that General Manager Neal Huntington brought in the right people.
“Everybody meshes right away. [Huntington] and the guys up front do a lot of good work to bring in the right personalities, the right talent and that we all mesh together and we haven’t skipped a beat at all…Everybody’s one big family in [the clubhouse],” he said.
Shortstop Jordy Mercer says not having Neil Walker at second base this year is different.
“I think me and Josh [Harrison], we played together in the minor leagues before and we’ve created that chemistry already. It’s just a matter of fine tuning that,” he said.
Huntington talked to Larry and John about how they are building a competitive team around established players.
“You build a position player club around Andrew McCutchen and Starling Marte…Francisco Cervelli and the others, it’s a great starting point. You build the rotation around [Gerrit] Cole and [Francisco] Liriano that has to be one of the better one, twos,” he said.
Huntington also talked about how the team is working to get off to a good start this season.
“That’s been a focus in Spring Training, is how do we get to a point where we are playing our best Opening Day and not the last five months of the season as we’ve done the last couple of years,” he said.
Former Pirates player John Wehner is starting his 12th season in the broadcast booth and he says he is still learning.
“I’m still trying to put sentences together correctly, trying to figure out how to say certain things,” he said half joking.
The Carrick native adds in the, “winter it goes way back to a Carrick [accent] again and then come Spring Training, I try to bring it back [to a broadcaster].”
Wehner says he could only be a broadcaster in Pittsburgh.
“I think I can only [be a broadcaster] here in this market because of being from Pittsburgh…The one thing I am confident about is that I know the game and I’m confident about what I say, not necessarily how I say it,” he said.
Wehner also talked about how difficult it is to make the post season, but that the expectation for the Pirates is to win the division.
“A lot of different things can happen to where you’re not in the post season, it isn’t a foregone conclusion. You still have to go out there and compete, you got to pitch well, you got to score runs, you got to play the game the right way and you hope you don’ get devastated by major injuries,” he said.
Manager Clint Hurdle joined Larry and John and he talked about the culture of the clubhouse and how a positive feeling can lead to wins.
“I think anybody that’s been involved in sport…and has had enough experience on being involved in positive situations and also having been a part of toxic situation, there’s an extreme difference,” he said.
Hurdle adds that everyone knows their job and they do it well.
“My job is letting the men go play and the coaches coach. We are Pirates and we take great pride in that,” he said.
Listen to the KDKA Morning News with Larry Richert and John Shumway weekdays from 5 to 9 a.m. on NewsRadio 1020 KDKA.