Pirates notebook: Coonelly confident of single-season attendance record
With a pennant race and a remaining schedule full of division opponents, Pirates team president Frank Coonelly feels confident they will set a new record for single-season attendance this year.
“We still have some work to do,” Coonelly said Tuesday. “But I'm like a pollster. I'm reading the trends and ready to say that we're in a good spot.”
The Pirates' single-season attendance record is 2,436,139, set in 2001, the year PNC Park opened. Last year's total was 2,256,862. Attendance through 62 games last year was 1,689,015, and they sat at 1,796,448 through 62 games heading into Tuesday.
After the conclusion of the two-game series with the Tigers, the Pirates have 18 home games left in the regular season.
Most are important games, which makes Coonelly optimistic.
“As things have shaken out, we have the Braves, who are fighting for their division; we have the Cardinals, against whom we're fighting for our division; we've got the Reds coming in; and the Brewers the last home series of the year,” Coonelly said. “Our fans have the opportunity to watch games directly involved in the pennant race essentially from here throughout the end of the year. The only series that is not directly affecting our pennant race and other pennant races is the Red Sox; and they happen to be the World Series champs.”
Another rehab start for Cole
Gerrit Cole will make at least one more rehab start in Triple-A Indianapolis on Saturday before coming off the DL.
Manager Clint Hurdle said they would like him to add to the innings and pitches after the last outing, which was six innings and 72 pitches.
Walker shows improvement
Second baseman Neil Walker (back) was still unavailable, but Hurdle said he's “on the back side” of a potential DL stint and could be ready to play this weekend at Washington.
When the problem began more than a week ago they kept him from baseball activity, Hurdle said. After he regressed Sunday, they decided to do nothing but rehab work for three days.
“Then we'll put baseball activity (back in the plan) the next three days, then look for an opportunity sometime after that to get him back in the lineup,” Hurdle said.
Ice bucket challenge
Coonelly accepted coach Dave Jauss' ice bucket challenge at PNC Park.
Coonelly said he watched Jauss and his wife take the challenge — a social media phenomenon that involves dumping a bucket of ice water over one's head, filming and posting it, then challenging friends to raise awareness for ALS — after Sunday's game.
He didn't realize Jauss would in turn challenge him.
“I've read some articles talking about what an increase in funding has taken place because of the ice bucket challenge, so it's terrific ” said Coonelly, who in turn challenged Pirates vice president and general counsel Bryan Stroh. “It's a little quirky, people throwing ice buckets over their heads, but whatever it takes to raise money and funds for a great cause.”
The Pirates recalled right-hander Brandon Cumpton and optioned Casey Sadler back to Indianapolis. Hurdle said Cumpton will pitch out of the bullpen, likely in multiple innings situations. ... Shortstop Clint Barmes (left groin strain) will begin a rehabilitation assignment Wednesday in Double-A Altoona and will eventually move to Triple-A Indianapolis.