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Spring Training Starts Getting Real for Pirates



BRADENTON, Fla. – Spring training has been underway for six days.

Yet it seemed like spring training only really began for the Pittsburgh Pirates on Monday at Pirate City.

The Pirates held their first full-squad workout. That came after five days of pitchers and catchers going through drills.

While most of the infielders and outfielders had been working out since camp opened, Monday made it official for everyone. And owner Bob Nutting and team president Travis Williams were watching.

“We’ve had almost everybody here the last couple days,” manager Derek Shelton said, “but it’s different when you get everybody. “You have pants on. Everybody is out of shorts. It just has a little bit of a different feel to it. But I was really happy with the vibe today.”

The vibe has been good around the Pirates’ camp so far, especially for a team that has gone 142-242 over the last three seasons. They have finished last in the National League Central for four consecutive years.

The only remotely negative news was handled in a positive fashion last week when center fielder Bryan Reynolds said he would still be open to a long-term contract extension despite requesting a trade in December.

Reynolds reiterated Monday that he would like to resume negotiations with the Pirates. So far, the team has not reciprocated.

General manager Ben Cherington spent most of the offseason adding veteran players. The Pirates hope they can blend the vets with some of their highly touted young players into a competitive team.

“I think the big thing is we’ve added to our club this year,” Shelton said. “We were able to give a lot of opportunity to young players last year then bringing in the guys that we brought in, we’re able to grow that competition level, which is really important for us.”


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The competition will start to intensify Saturday when the Grapefruit League season begins. For now, though, the Pirates are still getting to know each other and returning to baseball mode.

A tradition in every camp, Shelton held a team meeting prior to the initial full-squad workout. The gist of his message was to play hard and be ready to win a job.

“We’re going to play the way we play and continue to build our culture here,” Shelton said.

John Perrotto is a columnist for Pittsburgh Baseball Now and has covered the Pittsburgh Pirates and MLB since 1988.

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