It’s been a tough couple of decades for the Pittsburgh Pirates and their fans. The last two years haven’t made things any easier, as the Buccos turned first-half division leads into fourth-place finishes thanks to two of the most depressing collapses this side of the 2007 Mets. As the losses mounted, some felt Hurdle was losing his clubhouse, but he didn’t see it that way.
“I don’t believe so, but you’d have to talk to the players,” Hurdle told Dejan Kovacevic.
To assuage any potential clubhouse mutinies, Hurdle is establishing a “leadership group” — a small group of two or so players that meet with Hurdle in his office twice a month. Veteran A.J. Burnett is expected to be one member. More on the meetings, from Kovacevic:
“Say whatever you want,” Hurdle said. “You’ve got something? I want to hear it.”
Even if it’s openly critical, such as, oh, pulling Wandy Rodriguez after 62⁄3 innings of seriously sharp pitching and costing the club a game in Cincinnati?
“Anything at all,” Hurdle said. “We might be in there five minutes, 15 minutes, all afternoon. Doesn’t matter. I want to hear it.”
Though the tactic is unique, it isn’t surprising coming from Hurdle, known as one of the most player-friendly managers across baseball. Its efficacy will be decided during the season, when the Pirates are faced with the usual adversity of a 162-game season.
ESPN reports via the Associated Press that a young boy was struck by a line drive foul ball but was not seriously injured during Sunday afternoon’s game against the Royals. The boy and a woman were escorted by a first aid crew to the concourse area and the boy was later eating ice cream in a luxury suite.
A woman was struck in the face by a foul ball also on the first base side at Guaranteed Rate Field on Friday, but she didn’t request medical assistance.
Last week, a young fan at Yankee Stadium was hit by a line drive foul ball, which motivated several teams to commit to extending protective netting at their ballparks. The Yankees, strangely, were not among them. Nor were the White Sox.
Losses by the Cardinals to the Pirates and the Brewers to the Cubs on Sunday clinched an NL Wild Card berth for the Diamondbacks. Their walk-off, 3-2 win over the Marlins earned them hosting rights for the Wild Card game.
The D-Backs, now 90-66, trailed the Marlins 2-1 going into the bottom of the eighth. Daniel Descalso tied the game at two apiece with an RBI single off of Brad Ziegler. Second half hero J.D. Martinez secured the win with a walk-off RBI single in the bottom of the ninth against Javy Guerra.
The Rockies beat the Padres on Sunday to increase their lead over the Brewers (+2) and Cardinals (+2.5) for the second Wild Card slot. One of these three teams will visit Arizona for the Wild Card game.
The Diamondbacks are back in the playoffs for the first time since 2011, when they lost the Division Series in five games to the Brewers.