Pirates’ Clint Hurdle compares Bryan Reynolds, Kevin Newman to a Roman emperor
There have been many plaudits directed toward Pittsburgh Pirates rookies Bryan Reynolds and Kevin Newman this season.
Most of the praise was tied to their efforts on the field, where they were first and second on the team in batting average — .314 for Reynolds and .309 for Newman before the game Wednesday against the Chicago Cubs.
None, however, can compare to how Clint Hurdle described them Wednesday afternoon.
“I think they could have hung with Marcus Aurelius back in the day,” said the Pirates manager, apparently a student of ancient Roman history.
Marcus Aurelius, a Roman emperor from 161 to 180, also was a Stoic Philosopher.
“They are stoics, to me.”
Reynolds and Newman have lockers next to each other in the Pirates clubhouse, and they both choose their words carefully.
“Both just talk when they want to,” Hurdle said. “Not when they feel they have to.
“When you talk to them, neither one of them is waiting for you to shut up so they can talk. You run into a lot of people like that. Sometimes they’re not even listening to you. They’re just waiting for you to finish so they can show you how smart they are.
“You sit and talk to these kids, they’re very respectful. They have good listening traits, and I think they process information really well.”
A hard lesson
Reynolds, who is playing center field regularly in place of injured Starling Marte, was hitting .351 on July 1 before slumping.
“What he’s experiencing now is September baseball, the extra month of the season,” Hurdle said. “I think there has been a little backdraft now.
“He’s never done it before. He’s learning more about himself now and how to prepare next winter for that extended month of the season.”
Hurdle said he had no expectations for what Reynolds could do as a rookie, but he likes his approach at the plate: a mix of discipline and aggressiveness.
“He expects to have good at-bats.” Hurdle said. “He’s not afraid to hit with two strikes. A lot of times you’ll run into hitters, not just young hitters, they don’t want to bother with that two-strike count. They’re looking for early contact.”
Destined for center field?
Reynolds made his 25th start of the season in center field Wednesday, but he left the game in the first inning after trying to beat out an infield ground ball. Center field was his regular position coming through the minor leagues, but the Pirates have used him in left field (68 games) and right field (29) most of the season.
“I don’t think there is any doubt he can play center field every day,” Hurdle said.
Joe Musgrove, who had abdominal surgery in the offseason, is scheduled to make his 31st start of the season Thursday. That’s eight more than Chris Archer, who is second on the team.
“It just speaks to health as much as anything,” Hurdle said. “That’s the challenge at the front of everybody’s journey at the beginning of the season.
“Joe was very specific in his (offseason) training and even working through surgery, being able to bounce back and put himself in good shape, finishing form, to do what he has done.”
Jerry DiPaola is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Jerry by email at [email protected] or via Twitter .