BRADENTON, Fla. (KDKA) — In the days of social media, there is little distance between Bradenton, Florida, and Pittsburgh’s North Shore…. The Pittsburgh Pirates’ players are fully aware of the fan base discontent.
“I think the people of Pittsburgh are awesome, and the passion that they have is appreciated,” said infielder David Freese.
“In Pittsburgh, hopefully, we get the support that the fans have given us in the past. I get they are frustrated, I get they are loyal, and that’s what I respect and love most about the fans of Pittsburgh,” utility player Sean Rodriguez said.
But, at Spring Training, the Pirates believe they are capable, and are brimming full of confidence in one another.
“We’re going to have a lot of fun, and we’re going to win a lot of baseball games having fun, and it’s going to be huge,” said pitcher Steven Brault.
But 162 games is an endurance test.
“It’s tough, it takes everyone pulling their own weight around here, and when you get 25 guys all pulling in the same direction, things start to flow,” said pitcher Joe Musgrove.
“It’s tough, but I think if you ask anybody, ‘Is there something else you would rather do?’ they would say no,” said second baseman Josh Harrison.
The guys say, sure, it’s a job, but there’s nothing like the office the work in every day.
“This has been the love of my life for a long time, so I try to think this is a game for me,” catcher Francisco Cervelli said.
“It’s always a game, it’s never a job,” says shortstop Jordy Mercer. “As soon as it gets to be a job, I’m out.”
“Is this heaven? I mean, it truly is. It’s something I always wanted to do as a kid,” said Rodriguez. “Call it corny, call it whatever you want. I just enjoy being able to play.”
When the team arrives in Pittsburgh, there’s always some settling in to do, but this year should be easier for star pitcher Jamison Taillon. That’s because he’s a new Pittsburgh homeowner.
“I’ll already have the keys to a place. I can go right in, that’s nice,” he said.
But, Spring Training isn’t over just yet.
“We still have a few more days of work down here, but you’re always ready to get up there and get going,” Mercer said.
To that end, manager Clint Hurdle hopes to get the team down to the 25 going north by Monday. Then, they’ll have a couple more days of games in Bradenton before opening the season in Detroit on March 29.