It's a breath of fresh air talking to Aaron Poreda, the only member of the Curve roster who has played in the major leagues, and hearing his overwhelmingly positive attitude about being in Altoona.
Many players in his situation would sulk and be disappointed about having to return to Double-A. Not Poreda, a 25-year-old lefty who sounds genuinely excited about the opportunity he has with the Curve.
"You really feel a big team camaraderie here," Poreda said. "A lot of other teams that I've been on, especially Triple-A teams, everyone's been around the game a long time, and they have families and children, and they're kind of not all about the team, they're kind of about themselves.
"Here, it's all about the team, and that's what I was raised with in college and high school. It's great to see that everyone's getting along, everyone's high-fiving and yelling and screaming, and it's a really good atmosphere here."
Poreda (1-0) pitched five solid innings Tuesday night, giving up one unearned run on three hits, as the Curve beat Akron, 6-1, before 2,011 fans at Peoples Natural Gas Field. Altoona scored all six runs in the fourth inning and snapped a two-game losing streak.
Poreda pitched in the big leagues with the White Sox and Padres in 2009, going 1-0 with a 2.70 ERA in 14 games (13 1/3 innings). He had a rough year in 2011, going 4-3 with a 5.43 ERA at Triple-A Tucson (Padres), and the Pirates selected him in the minor league phase of the Rule 5 draft in December.
Tonight: Akron at Altoona, 6:30 p.m.
Pitching matchups: Curve RHP?Mike Colla (0-0, 6.75) vs. Aeros LHP?T.J. McFarland (1-0, 1.80)
Covering the bases: B2
Not all players would be happy about coming to the Pirate organization, but Poreda said he was excited as soon as he got the call from farm director Larry Broadway.
"I've always been an underdog, I felt, from when I was a little kid, and the Pirates definitely seem to be an underdog," he said. "But a lot of people don't realize what they have here.
"It's been great to be part of the Pirates' organization. From the top down, the way that they run things here is nothing like I've ever seen in other organizations. From a mental standpoint, they preach about not just being great baseball players, but having success in the game of life and being men and just going about the game the right way."
Poreda went to spring training expecting to compete for a spot in the bullpen at Triple-A Indianapolis, but the Pirates surprised him by giving him a shot to start for the Curve. It's Double-A, but it's more of what he wants to do.
"I've been waiting for the opportunity to start again," Poreda said.
He hadn't pitched in Double-A since 2009, but that didn't lead him to have a negative attitude about coming back.
"If you have a negative attitude and you're talking about me, me, me, it's not going to be good for the club," Poreda said. "It's going to be a cancer in the clubhouse, and it's not going to win ballgames. So what we try to do is be positive, root on our teammates and try to be energetic when I'm not playing.
"Those games you're not playing, try to be that sixth man off the bench that's just yelling and screaming and support your teammate, because that's what we need. If we can have that camaraderie, then we can win championships, and everyone can go to the next level."
Curve manager P.J. Forbes quickly noticed Poreda's positive attitude in spring training.
"I think he looks at it as a new lease on life, at least that's how he's approached it," Forbes said. "He's been nothing but excited about being here and showed it tonight."
Poreda achieved his dream of reaching the major leagues and said, "It was definitely a thrill ride."
Things haven't gone so smoothly for him the past couple of years, but his positive attitude kept driving him. That, and the belief that he someday could get back to the big leagues.
"You really just have to dig deep," he said of dealing with tough times. "You have to say, 'Hey, do I really want to do this?' It's something that I've given 100 percent as much as I can, and that's how you dig your way out.
"You have a positive attitude and you just have the will not to give in, and eventually you figure things out and get back to where you want to be."
SUBHD: Game recap
Key player: Curve 3B Elevys Gonzalez went 2-for-4 with a three-run homer.
Key play: 1B Matt Curry's two-run single and Gonzalez's homer helped the Curve break it open in the fourth inning.
Key stat: Altoona scored six runs in the fourth.
SUBHD: How they scored
Bottom 4th: Cunningham walked, scored on Lambo single (1-0); Sanchez singled, scored along with Lambo on Curry single (3-0); Cabrera singled, scored along with Curry on Gonzalez three-run homer (6-0).
Top 5th: Fedroff walked, scored on Goedert double and Latimore error (6-1).