Enthusiam lacking in Pirate City
BRADENTON, Fla. — Who are these guys?
That’s been one of the prevailing questions this week as the Pirates launched their 50th spring training season in this Florida city.
No Cutch. No Gerrit Cole. No Tony Watson, either. Instead, there’s Kyle Crick and Joe Musgrove and Colin Moran. And, you need a roster to match those names and numbers.
Crick came from San Francisco in the McCutchen trade while Musgrove and Moran joined the Pittsburgh organization when Cole was dealt to the World Champion Houston Astros. All three newcomers reportedly have a shot at making the Bucs’ 25-man roster — Moran at third base, Musgrove as a possible starter and Crick in the bullpen.
Bucs’ pitchers and catchers reported to Pirate City this week but, unlike recent years, there weren’t throngs of fans to greet them. In fact, you don’t have to get there early because there’s been plenty of places to park — even for the golfers at nearby River Bend Country Club.
That could change Monday when Pirate position players report, but there’s not a lot of enthusiasm yet. Josh Bell and Jordy Mercer were among the early arrivals and Starling Marte is here, too, but Cutch was the main attraction and most fans aren’t happy he’s gone.
Former Curve pitching coach Justin Meccage is now an assistant pitching coach for the Bucs. Ex-Curve managers Tom Prince and Joey Cora return as Pirate coaches.
Curve alums Jacob Stallings and Jin-De Jhang, a hero in Altoona’s title run last fall, are busy with the catchers, who seem to do more work than most of the other position guys.
Curve owner Bob Lozinak greeted long-time Curve usher Betty Wilkinson and later was seen talking to Tom Filer, one-time Curve pitching coach. Lozinak, accompanied by his grandson, Matt, gave Dave Orr a look at the new scoreboard to be erected at Peoples Natural Gas Field for the 2018 season. Orr has been a regular at Pirate City for years and has been a Curve supporter/fan since Day 1.
The annual Pirate Welcome Party will be held in downtown Bradenton Saturday evening. Pirate players, coaches and front-office personnel will be on hand for the celebration that will feature plenty of food and music.
The annual Altoona Day bash is scheduled next Thursday at Duff’s Original Buffet in Bradenton. The event has attracted about 150 Altoona area folks the past couple years.
Our recent stops included Olympia Cafe, Boston Market, Peach’s Restaurant, Cortez Seafood Shack and Cracker Barrel.
Duane Bordell and Raystown Transit are planning a trip to Bradenton and Kissimmee from March 15-22. The trip will include spring training games between the Pirates and Twins, Pirates and Red Sox, Blue Jays and Braves and Yankees and Tigers.
For information, call Bordell at 944-2585.
Until next week …
Lane, a retired sports editor of the Mirror, writes from Florida in the winter.