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Pirates notebook: Unique back stories for nicknames on jerseys

Rob Biertempfel
| Wednesday, Aug. 9, 2017, 7:05 p.m.
Pirates closer Felipe Rivero delivers during the 10th inning against the Rays on Tuesday, June 27, 2017, at PNC Park.
Christopher Horner | Tribune-Review
Pirates closer Felipe Rivero delivers during the 10th inning against the Rays on Tuesday, June 27, 2017, at PNC Park.
The Pirates will wear special uniforms with nicknames for the Little League Classic game on Aug. 20, 2017 and Players Weekend on Aug. 25-27, 2017, the league announced Wednesday.
The Pirates will wear special uniforms with nicknames for the Little League Classic game on Aug. 20, 2017 and Players Weekend on Aug. 25-27, 2017, the league announced Wednesday.

DETROIT — Although he can be a nightmare for opposing batters, that's not the nickname Felipe Rivero actually wanted on the back of his special Players Weekend jersey.

MLB will relax its rules for game attire Aug. 25-27.

Players will wear colorful, alternate uniforms bearing nicknames instead of their surnames.

They also may use uniquely colored items such as spikes, compression sleeves, batting gloves and bats. The Pirates' hats will be yellow and feature a throwback logo.

The Pirates and St. Louis Cardinals will use the gear when they play in the Little League Classic on Aug. 20 in Williamsport.

Rivero's jersey will say “Nightmare,” but he would have been happier if “Aquanile” was stitched there instead. Aquanile is the title of Rivers's walk-out song at PNC Park, which he has been using since he was in Double-A.

“I went with (Nightmare) because I wasn't the closer yet, so I didn't have a song yet (with the Pirates),” Rivero said. “I tried to change it to Aquanile, but they told me it was too late. Everybody calls me Aquanile now, so I really wish I could put that name on my jersey.”

The song is meaningful to Rivero because the lyrics have ties to the Caribbean religion of Santeria.

Rivero asked equipment manager Scott Bennett to make him a home white jersey with “Aquanile” across the back.

Rivero keeps it hanging at his locker at PNC Park.

“He made me sweat it out a couple of times, saying he was going to wear it out on the field,” Bonnett said with a laugh.

Some of the Pirate' nicknames are easy to figure out: Cutch (Andrew McCutchen), El Coffee (Gregory Polanco), Cisco (Francisco Cervelli) and Easy J (John Jaso). Others require some explanation: Frenchy (Wade LeBlanc), The Rook (Jordy Mercer), EV (Trevor Williams) and Arenoso (Juan Nicasio).

“I'll take a nickname, as long as it's something my mom will appreciate,” said LeBlanc, who got his moniker from manager Randy Ready when he was in Low-A ball in 2006.

Mercer was dubbed The Rook during his freshman year at Oklahoma State.

“I was just a kid, so it made sense,” Mercer said. “A year later, I asked for a new nickname, but they said, ‘Nope, you're still The Rook.' It's never changed.”

Translated from Spanish, Arenoso means sandy or gritty. But Nicasio's nickname isn't about his plucky style of play.

“It's my hometown,” Nicasio said.

Williams chose EV as a tribute to Eddie Vedder, the lead singer of the rock band Pearl Jam.

“I want to be a rock star, so I chose a rock star name,” Williams said.

Planet of the aches

Before he was traded to the Pirates on Saturday, Sean Rodriguez played in only 15 games this season with the Atlanta Braves.

He had surgery in February to repair his rotator cuff, which was torn in an auto accident.

Head athletic trainer Todd Tomczyk said Rodriguez should be able to play without restrictions the rest of the way.

“We had a lot of in-depth conversations (before the trade) about the injury, the surgery and the rehab,” Tomczyk said. “It's a testament to Sean to be playing right now. And compliments to the Braves' performance team. I've seen a lot of hitters and pitchers who've had similar surgeries that have been career ending, so he's extremely fortunate.”

Top prospect Austin Meadows (hamstring) continued his rehab assignment Wednesday with Short-Season Single-A West Virginia. Meadows was injured June 21, when he was with Triple-A Indianapolis.

“He is progressing nicely,” Tomzyk said. “I hear that he will be in Indy in the near future.”

Chew on this

PNC Park is the ninth-safest ballpark in MLB in terms of food preparation and storage, according to a survey of health departments conducted by Sports Illustrated.

“The safety, health and well-being of our fans is always our top priority,” president Frank Coonelly said via email. “We work closely with our concessionaires on their comprehensive approach to food safety. … We are constantly looking to take the necessary steps to discover and rectify any issues to ensure the food served at PNC Park is safe, of high quality and great tasting.”

The Allegheny County Health Department last year found a total of 44 violations at PNC Park. MLB's median average was 52.

“Almost half of the total violations at PNC were critical, and most dealt with foods at dangerous temperatures,” according to Sports Illustrated. “Entire coolers were measured at 50 degrees Fahrenheit. The USDA requires cold food be kept at 40 degrees or below.”

The three safest stadiums in 2016 were Safeco Field (five violations) in Seattle, Fenway Park (30 violations) in Boston and Minute Maid Park (28 violations) in Houston.

Rob Biertempfel is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at rbiertempfel@tribweb.com or via Twitter @BiertempfelTrib.

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