Pirates notebook: Renovation adds to McKechnie Field capacity |

Pirates notebook: Renovation adds to McKechnie Field capacity

Christopher Horner
Pirates center fielder Andrew McCutchen strikes a pose as he slides across a mat at Pirate City during base-sliding drills on Wednesday, Feb. 20, 2013, in Bradenton, Fla. Christopher Horner | Tribune-Review
Christopher Horner
Pirates outfielder Starling Marte slides across a mat at Pirate City during base-sliding drills Wednesday, Feb. 20, 2013 in Bradenton, Fla. Christopher Horner | Tribune-Review
Christopher Horner
Pirates second baseman Neil Walker slides past coach Tom Prince during base-sliding drills Wednesday, Feb. 20, 2013 at Pirate City in Bradenton, Fla. Christopher Horner | Tribune-Review
Christopher Horner
Pirates Chairman of the Board Bob Nutting speaks during a dedication ceremony at the newly renovated McKechnie Field Wednesday, Feb. 20, 2013 in Bradenton, Fla. Christopher Horner | Tribune-Review

BRADENTON, Fla. — With the Pirates set to begin their 45th year at McKechnie Field, the 90-year-old ballpark underwent a $10 million renovation. The new-look field was unveiled Wednesday.

By installing outfield seats for the first time, capacity was boosted from 6,500 to 8,500. It’s the fourth-largest ballpark in the Grapefruit League.

The centerpiece of the renovation is a 19,000-square-foot boardwalk spanning the outfield. A new agility drills area, a half-field and indoor batting cages were built behind the outfield.

“I think we’ve found the perfect blend of old ballpark charm and new amenities,” Pirates owner Bob Nutting said.

The team paid $3 million toward the stadium upgrade; the public contribution came via a tourist development tax. As part of the deal with the city and Manatee County, the Pirates will spend up to $400,000 annually to promote Bradenton via advertising in Pittsburgh.

In February 2008, the Pirates signed a 30-year lease to keep their spring training home in Bradenton.

• After Wednesday’s workout, manager Clint Hurdle named right-handed pitcher A.J. Burnett the Opening Day starter. The Pirates open the season April 1 against the Chicago Cubs at PNC Park. Hurdle also said left-hander Wandy Rodriguez will start the second game. It will be the first time in Burnett’s 15-year career that he starts the first game of the year. Burnett likely would have gotten the honor in 2012, but he missed the first three weeks recovering from a fractured orbital bone. Last season, Burnett went 16-10 with a 3.51 ERA and led the Pirates in wins, strikeouts (180) and innings (202 13).

• Top prospects Gerrit Cole and Jameson Taillon are scheduled to pitch two innings apiece in Friday’s intrasquad game. The game will last 5 13 innings. Also scheduled to pitch are Kris Johnson (2 innings), Kyle Waldrop (2), Hunter Strickland (2), Eric Cordier (2) and Vic Black (2).

• Right-handed pitcher Jeff Karstens (biceps tightness) said he felt good after soft tossing Tuesday. He threw again on flat ground Wednesday.

— Rob Biertempfel

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.