Originally written on Pirates Prospects  |  Last updated 11/16/14
Clint Hurdle met with the media today at the MLB Winter Meetings. The transcript of the interview was sent out via press release. Below are some highlights. On who could lead off for the Pirates… “I’m not even going to go there right now because that’ll get printed with here’s who we’re leading off.  I don’t know right now.  I’ve got some thoughts.  I’ve got some thoughts on who I’d like to hit second.  When you look at our personnel, you definitely want people up there that can move.  It’s not so much the standard as it used to be.  How many prototypical lead‑off men are in the game right now?  There’s probably a handful of guys that played in the ’80s or ’90s that you’re looking to lead off, guys that are actually in the game right now.  But a man that can get on base, can score runs, the second guy used to be a guy that could handle the bat.  Now it’s maybe a guy that can walk, handle the bat, stretch out an at‑bat and a guy that needs to get on base. “Our challenge offensively is for all our men to show improvement all along those lines, better quality at‑bats.  We had a 3‑hole hitter that with the season he still didn’t drive in 100 runs.  I think he drove in 95 runs all said and done.  You would have liked to think there would have been more opportunities there for him.  We’ve got to find ways to get those two spots more often.  I think there are some names we’re considering.  I know there’s some names I’m considering, but we’ll see how it plays out.” On improving stolen bases… “We’ve got to help our guys find their way there, then we have to ‑‑ we’re going to implement some new ideas in Spring Training to increase the reps, increase the focus, and to recreate as much as we can the game type situation as far as them working to get better and working to get cleaner breaks when they do decide to go.” On whether the team will look outside the organization for pitching… “Externally you say, you’re talking about getting an experienced guy because you don’t have those guys within your system.  We have young men that are going to grow up and look for opportunities, whether it’s the two men we brought up at the beginning of the season or someone else that’s on the cusp.  But we have had those discussions, as well, and we’re working our way through a lot of different branches.  The biggest branch was cut a little less than a week ago.  If we’re able to acquire a catcher, first critical point, we’re going to go this way.  If we didn’t get Russ Martin, we’re going to go this way.  So we’re following a different avenue now that Russ is with us and a part of our organization. “We understand the depth and the importance of pitching; everybody does.  And experienced pitching can also have a tremendous benefit.  It’s tough to break in two young starters.  Sometimes that’s what you need to do.  That can be a challenge.” On if they’re talking about Kyle McPherson and Jeff Locke for the rotation… “Absolutely, those two guys we’re talking about, yeah.” On James McDonald… “Well, I think obviously if he would have had a second half like the first half, he’d be a lockdown probably No. 3 guy in your rotation.  I do think we saw enough good ‑‑ I love the way, the challenge that can be presented, and we do work in an industry and sometimes in society when something doesn’t go right, I think we have more fear of being wrong.  We talked about this earlier today, gosh, is he a first half guy or a second half guy?  I’m thinking he’s a first half guy or somebody in between.  I think the experience is going to help him.  There’s probably not the confidence level that he’s got going in that he had in the first half going into the beginning of it.  But the beauty of our game, it’s a brand new start. “We’re going to accentuate the positives.  He’s continued to see the good stuff, why it went on, how it went on, the challenges that came in the second half, what was learned by them.  I still have a good feeling about James McDonald.  And what I don’t believe people put enough resolve into or thought into, this is a converted guy.  This guy hasn’t been pitching since he was six.  It was the first time he had a large amount of success bundled in a half of a season.  I think that was a new experience for him, as well.” On bringing Jason Grilli back… “Yeah, we have interest in bringing Jason back, most definitely.  Jason has been a very good pitcher for us in a Pirate uniform.” On whether they could replace Joel Hanrahan internally as the closer… “Everybody thinks that you’ve got to have a guy that’s done it.  There’s a bunch of guys that never did it until they got their first opportunity.  You’d like to have somebody in waiting, but sometimes you don’t know who a guy is going to be.  Really never had the opportunity to pitch in the eighth inning last year, he’s been moved upon that. “I can remember ‑‑ I wasn’t in the organization, but when Joel first came over there was a large volume of people that never thought this man would be anything close to a Major League credible closer.  He’s put together two very successful seasons.  He’s established himself in a very good place there. “For me it’s as much about opportunity, it’s not so much about having a bona fide guy.  We’ve got big arms, I think, that play swing and miss stuff, eight guys better leverage situations and ground ball situations.  So I think we have those guys available to us.” On having Travis Snider in the lineup… “I’m really looking forward to it.  I think he’s going to be a very good player for us on both sides of the ball.  And along those veins, I’m looking to Gaby Sanchez to be in a much better place.  He just had a sideways year last year for whatever reason, it didn’t work in Miami.  I thought he was working to a much better place toward the end of the season with us.  Those are two guys you can plan in your lineup that have shown the ability to dig in with some at‑bats, to stretch out at‑bats, to see more pitches, their hitting awareness might be a little bit longer than some of the guys we’ve had.  So I think you plant those two in the lineup, it gives the lineup a chance to grow, as well.” On Starling Marte being in the lineup from day one in 2013… “Absolutely, and he’s had a very, very good winter ball from the first day he started playing until now.  And Giles has his eyes on him.  I get the daily report.  We’ve had people down to see him.  He’s excited.  Obviously he wanted the opportunity to play winter ball.  I think we’re having conversations right now on how much more he needs to play winter ball.  He’s in a very good place, and I think he’s another guy that coming in, the experience of being there last year is going to help him through more of a seamless transition and the opportunity to get off to a nice clean start with us to start the season.” On the lack of questions this off-season about Pedro Alvarez… “I do think he’s in the most comfortable place he’s ever been in professionally and especially since he’s been in a Pirate uniform.” On Neil Walker’s injury recovery… “He’s done with all the medical recovery and activity and therapy.  He’s finished with all that and actually started his strength and conditioning program within the last two weeks.  Probably two weeks ago, I had lunch with him while he was geared up for that.  He’s in a very good place, very good place, ready to go.” On who could play in the WBC… “We just had some conversation about it.  We’re starting to have some conversation about it.  And actually I think Pedro was on the Dominican Republic’s roster, expanded roster early, and he doesn’t ‑‑ I don’t think he’s ‑‑ right now he’s kind of apprehensive and not real comfortable pursuing it, but I’m aware there could be a few other names coming out.  We’ll have those conversations when we’re sure of the names and the opportunity.”
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