ShareThis Page
Pirates’ manager looks forward to first official exhibition game |

Pirates’ manager looks forward to first official exhibition game

The Associated Press
| Thursday, February 28, 2008 12:00 a.m

BRADENTON, Fla. – John Russell says he understands that Thursday’s exhibition opener won’t be nearly the same as when he makes his regular-season debut as the Pittsburgh Pirates’ manager on March 31 in Atlanta.

Nevertheless, he said he is looking forward to the first official game of the spring when the Pirates visit the Philadelphia Phillies in Clearwater, Fla.

“After you’ve been in spring training for a couple of weeks, you get tired of just working out and taking batting practice off your own pitchers,” Russell said Wednesday. “You want to get out on the field and start competing.”

Russell, hired to replace Jim Tracy last November, and his all-new coaching staff have been stressing the importance of fundamentals this spring. Now, Russell is looking forward to seeing his team put that theory into practice.

Russell said he was pleased with the Pirates’ performance in a 5-0 win over Manatee Community College in a charity game Wednesday, though none of the players expected to be in Pittsburgh’s opening-day lineup participated.

“We did a good job of driving in runs and taking the extra base when the opportunity was there,” Russell said. “Our pitchers also did a really good job of throwing strikes and keeping the ball low in the strike zone.”

“Those have all been points of emphasis this spring,” he said. “Now, we’d like to continue to see that progression during the exhibition season and keep building on it as we get closer to the regular season.”

The Pirates had little roster turnover in the offseason and have few positions open this spring. The most interesting competition will be between Nate McLouth and Nyjer Morgan to be the center fielder and leadoff hitter.

They were two of the few bright spots last season when the Pirates had the worst record in the National League (68-94). McLouth hit .258 with 13 home runs and had a team-high 22 stolen bases in 137 games. Morgan batted .299 with seven steals in 29 games during a September call-up.

“Its just nice to know that you have a chance to be in the starting lineup,” said McLouth, who has spent the first two seasons of his career primarily in a reserve role. “All you want is the opportunity and I’m excited about it.”

“Nate is a good player, and I feel like I bring some things to the table as well,” Morgan said. “It should be a good competition. I know we’re both looking forward to it.”

Categories: News
TribLIVE commenting policy

You are solely responsible for your comments and by using you agree to our Terms of Service.

We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.

While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.

We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers

We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.

We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.

We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.

We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.