Pirates notebook: Hall of Famer Larkin says more success will help Pirates change perception
Shortly after Clint Hurdle was named Pirates manager in November 2010, Barry Larkin asked Hurdle why he took the job.
“He told me, ‘I took it because things are changing. It's going to be good,' “ Larkin recalled. “I know Clint, and I know he tends to be the eternal optimist, but I didn't see it.”
Larkin, a Hall of Famer and an analyst for ESPN, is happy to admit he was wrong. The Pirates got a bit better each season under Hurdle, and last year they made the playoffs for the first time since 1992.
That success has rehabilitated the Pirates' image inside the industry and with fans around the country. Sunday, the new-look Pirates will be showcased on ESPN's “Sunday Night Baseball” for the first time in 12 years.
However, the Pirates will have a sub-.500 record when they face the St. Louis Cardinals in front of a national TV audience. The starting catcher, closer and one member of the starting rotation are on the disabled list. The pitching staff has scuffled, and the offense remains sketchy.
That's a lot to overcome, but Larkin said the Pirates must find a way to do it.
“This is a very important year for the Pirates,” Larkin said. “If they don't follow up the success of last year, what's going to be said about this team is, ‘See? I told you so. What did they do with the money they made last year? Why isn't the team better?' I don't know the answers to those questions, but that's where the public perception is.”
When the Pirates let Marlon Byrd, Justin Morneau and A.J. Burnett sign elsewhere over the winter, Larkin wondered if the good karma from 2013 would start to fade.
“I don't think there's a negative connotation about the (Pirates) organization per se,” Larkin said. “It's how they do business and how they haven't put a product on the field to get the job done that's the issue.”
Larkin also pointed to how Pirates management has resisted calling up hot-hitting outfielder Gregory Polanco — even as Travis Snider serves a suspension and Starling Marte battles a sore lower back.
“The question is, why?” Larkin said. “Is it because they don't need an outfielder who can hit for power? Is it because (Jose) Tabata's the guy? Why? Why? That's the way the organization is run. It's a financial issue. It's a control issue. We get that.”
Rodriguez eyes Thursday start
Left-hander Wandy Rodriguez (right knee inflammation) is scheduled to come off the disabled list Thursday and start that night's game against the Milwaukee Brewers. Rodriguez (0-2, 7.65) has been out since April 20.
Grilli good after bullpen session
Closer Jason Grilli (left oblique strain) reported no problems after throwing his second bullpen session Friday.
Grilli most likely will make a couple of rehab outings in the minors before coming off the DL. Will he move back into the closer's job? “I hate to take a guy away from his job because of an injury,” Hurdle said. “Last year, that's the way it worked out. We want to make sure he's as sharp as he can be, so we'll see.”
‘Mad men' star at PNC Park
Actor Jon Hamm, who rose to fame starring in “Mad Men,” will attend Sunday night's game at PNC Park. Hamm portrays a sports agent in the movie “Million Dollar Arm,” based on the story of Pirates minor leaguer Rinku Singh.
Rob Biertempfel is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org or via Twitter @BiertempfelTrib.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Starkey: Bucs still battlin’
- Pirates notebook: McCutchen returns to starting lineup; Alvarez out
- Pirates down Cardinals, inch closer in wild-card chase
- Biertempfel: Bucs must balance playing hurt or sitting out
- Braves’ error, Sanchez’s sacrifice fly in 9th help Pirates snap long skid
- Time on the bench gets Snider back into Pirates lineup
- Alvarez delivers 2 homers as Pirates pummel Brewers, 10-2
- McCutchen says he’s not 100 percent, but ‘good enough’ to play