Pirates’ Clint Hurdle discusses grinding through giant slump
The past two dozen games, with 20 losses and only four wins, were the worst stretch Pittsburgh Pirates manager Clint Hurdle could remember.
That’s mostly because his team still was mired in this slide.
“Last year it seemed like the worst stretch I’d ever been in,” said Hurdle, whose team lost 18 of 24 at one point in 2018. “Now this year is the worst stretch I’ve ever been in. I think whatever current stretch you’re in is the worst one you’ve ever been in.”
Enduring and escaping a season-sinking slump requires communication and creativity, Hurdle said.
“Fortunately or unfortunately, I’ve been through it before,” he said Wednesday before the Pirates played the Milwaukee Brewers at PNC Park.
The Pirates entered the series finale having won only four games since the all-star break, a month-long slump that saw the team fall from postseason contention to last place in the NL Central.
“There have been multiple one-run games, two-run games,” Hurdle said. “We’re not able to finish on the other side, and that has been challenging. I just believe in the core group of men out there that they understand ‘OK’ is not good enough. We’re fighting to win. Our goal is to win games.”
The Pirates had lost four consecutive entering Wednesday. They also had a nine-game losing streak late last month. It’s Hurdle and his staff’s challenge to keep the team on task.
“At times I think you use all of your skills and your awareness tools,” Hurdle said. “You don’t want to overreact, but you need to react. Sometimes you need to react right on spot. You need to stay creative.”
That creativity includes filling out the lineup card. He has switched names in the order in the past week, moves that included two days off for slumping all-star first baseman Josh Bell.
“You need to not fall into traps of ‘there are certain guys we need to play,’ ” Hurdle said. “Well, right now we’ve played everybody and we’re 4-20. If a guy looks a little tired, he needs to get the day (off). He needs to rest.”
Hurdle said his message to players was realistic, no sugarcoating. But in a prolonged slump, the message can’t be completely negative, he said.
“You can’t just shovel them manure,” Hurdle said. “You’ve got to find some positives to hang on to keep fighting because it’s not over.”