Reliever Hanrahan's success rooted in fun
Same stuff, same delivery, same fastball, same slider.
What's the difference between the Joel Hanrahan who flopped two years ago and the lockdown closer who'll represent the Pirates at the All-Star Game on Tuesday?
"I realize it's a game now," Hanrahan said. "It's what I grew up loving, dying to play and missing school. If you take the fun out of it and think of it as life-and-death situations, it's a job. It's stressful. If you clear your mind and relax, you can remember it's a game and have fun."
It's a lesson that manager Clint Hurdle can appreciate because he also struggled with taking the game too seriously during his playing days.
Hurdle was a first-round draft pick in 1975 and touted as a can't-miss kid by Sports Illustrated. In his first two years in the majors, Hurdle hit a mere .257.
"My performance got cleaner and I had more fun when I could get back to the fact that I was playing a game," Hurdle said. "It's all part of the maturing process. You've got to have some joy in what you do. There's got to be a reason you do what you do other than the win.
"If it's all about winning, it will not last. You'll make bad decisions. You won't stick to your integrity, your character. You'll sell out. It's gotta be a bigger picture involved."
Hanrahan said the team has bought into that message — which helps explain the Pirates' dramatic first-half success.
"Spring training was the time we focused on getting everything right, all the drills and little details," Hanrahan said. "Now we're still doing that stuff, but we're having fun doing it. After a loss, we're not 25 guys sitting at their lockers, saying, 'What the heck just happened?' We're having fun out there."
Planet of the aches
Left fielder Jose Tabata (strained quad) is headed today to Bradenton, Fla. He'll work out at Pirate City for a couple of days, then begin a rehab assignment with High-A Bradenton. ... Reliever Evan Meek still is in the "strengthening phase" of his recovery from shoulder tendinitis, said general manager Neal Huntington. Meek, who has been out since mid-June, is at Pirate City but has not resumed throwing.
Hurdle had high praise for Pedro Ciriaco and Neil Walker, who each used an athletic slide in the four-run eighth inning Friday that upended the Chicago Cubs. Ciriaco, a pinch-runner, broke up a double play by barrelling into second base. Walker scored with a hook slide to evade a tag at the plate.
"It was the Jackie Robinson hook slide for years," Hurdle said. "It disappeared for years, and people went straight-in, head-first or feet-first. Somewhere back in the late '90s, it started happening again. You see kids doing it in Little League."
Hurdle believes a great hook slide is instinctual.
"It's not like guys practice it a lot," he said. "In spring training, we did some work on it. But it's not like we get them out here every afternoon and say, 'OK, everyone take 10 slides.' "
Pirates vs. Cubs July 9, 2011src="http://photos.mycapture.com/PITT/1283061⁄36711082T.jpg" alt="Pirates vs. Cubs July 9, 2011" title="Pirates vs. Cubs July 9, 2011">
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.
- Pirates notebook: Autographs to come at a cost at PirateFest
- Pirates star McCutchen marries in private ceremony
- Pirates enter Plan B with Martin off market
- Pirates trade Davis to A’s for international signing bonus money
- Pirates notebook: Team offered catcher Martin 4-year contract
- Pirates cut ties with Davis, clearing path for Alvarez to play first base