PITTSBURGH - The first month of the season was rocky for the Pittsburgh Pirates' offense, but it ended on a hopeful note.
Pedro Alvarez had gotten into the habit of taking a slow path around the bases, hitting five home runs in April.
It's impossible to overestimate how important Alvarez is to the Pirates' offense.
If he hits, the rest of the lineup fits into more comfortable roles.
There's no substitute for a genuine thumper in the middle of the order, the kind of hitter who can make the other team nervous about his power.
The starting pitching has been outstanding to this point. Joel Hanrahan is reliable at the back end of games.
If the Pirates can score enough games to ease the burden on the pitching staff, they can win some games.
So much of that depends on what Alvarez does.
The Pirates drafted him to be a formidable presence in the middle of the order.
After a slow start, he's shown some signs that he may be able to fill that role.
If Alvarez has a good season, so do the Pirates.
The Pittsburgh Steelers drafted one player who has a marijuana charge on his record, and another who got in trouble for sending a threatening text message to a former girlfriend.
The early rounds of the draft throughout the NFL are marked with players who have had brushes with the law. It's a part of our world.
The Steelers believe they've investigated the circumstances thoroughly and have chosen players who have put those problems in the past.
Time will tell. Steelers general manager Kevin Colbert said he won't be totally sure of Mike Adams' promises until Adams' career is over.
Adams is the Ohio State lineman who ran afoul of the law on a marijuana charge.
The Steelers have committed to Adams. Now he has to justify that faith.
I misidentified the co-author of "A Pirate For Life" in Monday's column. Erik Sherman is the writer who did such a good job with Steve Blass on the book.
Apologies to him.
Mehno can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org