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Pirates' Coonelly says good start 'fun to watch,' calls manager Hurdle 'joy to work with'

April 5, 2011 - Cory Giger
Pirates president Frank Coonelly likes that his young team already has shown signs of understanding what needs to be done to play winning baseball less than a week into the season.

"It's been fun to watch, and I think it's important that the players get off to a good start because it helps in their confidence level," Coonelly said during the Curve's Fanfest event at The Casino at Lakemont Park.

The Pirates took a 3-1 record into Tuesday night's game at St. Louis, and they would have been 4-0 if not for a blown 3-0 lead in the eighth inning of Saturday's game against the Cubs at Wrigley Field. They took two out of three against Chicago and won in St. Louis on Monday.

"We still have a very young team learning how to win, and the best way to learn how to win is to win and then continue to come out the next day and understand that you have to win that ballgame, as well," Coonelly said.

"Tough loss on Saturday in Chicago, but the best part about that tough loss was to see the guys bounce back on Sunday and win a tough game, and then obviously [Monday] night win another close game."

First-year manager Clint Hurdle already has been receiving praise for his handling of a club that lost 105 games last season.

"I have to say that Clint Hurdle has been a joy to work with," Coonelly said. "He's an extremely professional baseball man, a unique person in terms of his ability to communicate both in terms of -- as he calls it -- a pat on the back and a pat on the backside, both of which are appropriate.

"He has a special talent in delivering both of those messages to players."

Curve Booster Club officials, who put on the Fanfest, were thrilled that Coonelly accepted an invitation to take part in the event. Booster Club president John Prosperi said Coonelly was the first high-ranking Pirates official ever to attend the Fanfest.

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