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Steelers coach Mike Tomlin addresses Pirates

Christopher Horner | Tribune-Review
Steelers coach Mike Tomlin talks with Pirates' manager Clint Hurdle after speaking with the Pirates team Monday, March 17, 2014, at McKechnie Field in Bradenton, Fla.

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Monday, March 17, 2014, 11:06 a.m.

BRADENTON, Fla. – Clint Hurdle is a purveyor of motivational messages. The Pirates' manager sends out daily emails containing such notes. And on Monday morning he brought perhaps the most well-known motivational speaker in Pittsburgh to the McKechnie Field clubhouse: Steelers coach Mike Tomlin.

As indicated by the invite to address the team and the warm embrace afterward between the two coaches, Tomlin and Pirates manager Clint Hurdle have developed a close relationship. Tomlin reached out when Hurdle was hired to be the Pirates manager after the 2010 season.

“It's a mutual respect thing. The coaches that were in the city when I got here made me feel welcomed.,” Tomlin said. “I wanted to do the same thing with him. I reached out to him when he first got to Pittsburgh. We have maintained a close relationship since. We came down to watch a spring training game a year ago and wanted to do the same (this year), and in the midst of that he offered me an opportunity to address the team. I has humbled and honored to do it.”

Hurdle said he and Tomlin have developed a close bond because few understand their professional experience.

“There's only a few people you can go to and talk about being a manager or head coach and they can go ‘I know what you mean,'” Hurdle said. “With Mike and I, it's being in the fire, having a working relationship with a general manager, the relationship he has with the Rooneys … I have a very good relationship with Bob (Nutting). That whole transparency at the top, the Rooneys have established it, and we are building it.”

Tomlin is in Florida on football-related business, too. Florida State will host its pro day Tuesday. But Tomlin also is a baseball fan. He grew up in the Tidewater region in Virginia and followed Darryl Strawberry and other mid-1980s Mets stars as they came through the team's Triple-A affiliate in Norfolk.

Tomlin remains a fan of the game. He is sometimes seen at PNC Park. He became caught up in the Pirates' 2013 season. But before Tomlin addressed the clubhouse, he said he is hardly an expert in the game. “I acknowledged I am a serious lay person when it comes to baseball,” Tomlin said.

The crux of Tomlin's address Monday was there are elements of team-building that translate to any sport and go beyond what can be measured.

“There are a lot of ways to measure team development, but there are also some things happening here that can't be measured: team comradery, toughness, unselfishness, things of that nature,” Tomlin said. “I think that's something universal when it comes to team sport: The strength of the whole is greater than the sum of the parts, and we all take ownership of this growth and development.”

Hurdle liked the message.

“The one thing he brought to the table today was finding ways to acknowledge things that cannot be measured. Everything that can be counted doesn't always count ... things that can't be measured through sabermetics,” Hurdle said. “He touched on that and it was impactful. It was wonderful he wasn't coached. I said ‘Mike, go give them what you got' and he did.”

Cole works in intrasquad game

Gerrit Cole threw five innings and 83 pitches against the Triple-A Pirates on Monday. He allowed five hits, three runs, four walks and struck out four. “It went well,” Cole said. “The delivery was good.”

Next up

The Pirates-Yankees Grapefruit league game was rained out Monday. The Pirates are off Tuesday. The Pirates will return at 7 p.m. Wednesday (TV: ROOT) against the Red Sox in Fort Myers. Wandy Rodriguez is scheduled to pitch.

Travis Sawchik is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach him at or via Twitter @Sawchik_Trib.

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