Pirates look ahead as camp starts
BRADENTON, Fla. — Pittsburgh Pirates manager Clint Hurdle says it’s time for the team to move on as it begins spring training about four weeks after trading away star outfielder Andrew McCutchen and ace pitcher Gerrit Cole.
“It’s an opportunity for a new era of Pirates baseball,” Hurdle said after the team’s two-hour opening workout on Wednesday. “That’s no disrespect. They’re gone. It’s a new era. There were men who came before Gerrit and Andrew who also did significant things. Honor the past, own the present. We have an opportunity to create our own future.”
Four days apart in early January, Cole was traded to the Houston Astros and McCutchen was dealt to the San Francisco Giants. General manager Neal Huntington said his plan is to retool the roster instead of blowing it up entirely.
Several of the players the Pirates got in those deals will have chances to play right away.
Colin Moran, who hit 18 home runs last year in Triple-A, likely will be the Pirates’ opening day third baseman. That’s a chance he would not have gotten with Houston, where Alex Bregman is entrenched as the starter.
“(The trade) was bittersweet,” Moran said. “But you get to a certain point where there’s only so much opportunity for certain guys, so I’m really excited to compete for a spot.”
Right-hander Joe Musgrove, who also arrived via the Cole trade, is penciled into the starting rotation. Last season, Musgrove was used mostly as a long reliever.
“We’d like to plug him into the rotation and let him run with it,” Hurdle said. “We believe he has the tools to do it. The experience he gained in (the Astros’) bullpen . he had some pretty good guys to learn from last year.”
Two relievers were also acquired in the trades: Kyle Crick from the Giants and Michael Feliz from the Astros.
“It’s not fair to the men who are here to continue to talk about Gerrit or Andrew not being here,” Hurdle said. “Our focus is on the men who are here. There are a lot of fresh faces in camp, there’s a lot of new opportunity for a lot of different men to play significant roles.”
After the McCutchen and Cole trades, second baseman Josh Harrison told The Athletic he wanted to be traded if the Pirates were not good enough to contend for a playoff berth.
Although management listed to trade offers, Harrison is still with the team. The deadline for position players to report to camp is Sunday.
“Josh has always been one to share his feelings,” Hurdle said. “He’s going to show up here ready to play. I don’t anticipate any type of collateral damage, backlash, backdraft, whatever you want to call it. When he shows up here, I expect to see a guy who loves to play the game, a guy who’s going to go out and show people he’s a good ballplayer.”
Other players in the clubhouse have accepted the changes.
“It was sad, but we’re going to be fine. Andrew’s going to be fine with the Giants and Gerrit is going to be fine with the Astros. Best of luck to those guys,” catcher Francisco Cervelli said. “They’re still family to us, but we’ve got to move forward.”
Notes: Reliever Daniel Hudson sprained his ankle while jogging and did not participate in the opening workouts. . Catcher Elias Diaz, whose mother was kidnapped last week in Venezuela, was given permission to be a late arrival in camp. . Hurdle indicated that right-hander Tyler Glasnow, who two years ago was rated the Pirates’ top prospect, likely will make the club as a long reliever. Over 22 outings in the majors, Glasnow, 24, has put up a 6.75 ERA and has averaged six walks allowed per nine innings.