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Pirates

Notebook: Pirates keep security tight at PNC

Joe Rutter
| Thursday, April 17, 2003

The Pirates took the field Wednesday night hoping to avoid a copycat incident in another outbreak of fan violence.

For the second consecutive year, a fan ran onto the field at Chicago's U.S. Cellular Field during a White Sox-Royals game with violent consequences. Last season, two men attacked Royals first base coach Tom Gamboa. Tuesday night, umpire Laz Diaz was jumped by a man who came at him from the first base stands during a fly ball that was hit to right field.

"You're a little concerned," Pirates manager Lloyd McClendon said. "You wonder what's next."

If the Pirates have anything to say about it, "what's next" won't happen at PNC Park. The team adopted strict security measures when PNC Park opened in 2001 and upgraded them following the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.

Still, the Pirates watched the event that unfolded Tuesday at U.S. Cellular Field with interest.

"You're definitely aware of what goes on in other facililites," said Patty Paytas, the team's vice president of communications. "From the day the building has opened, we've definitely focused on security. We want the fans to feel safe and comfortable. We want them to have fun. That's the balance you are trying to maintain. With everything going on in the world, security remains a high priority. Where we're lucky is, we have a new building. The procedures and equipment we put in place are state of the art, so we haven't had to make a lot of changes."

Paytas said the Pirates try their best to monitor unruly fans. Ushers are trained to not allow fans to change seat locations in an attempt to get closer to the field. And the fans that have tickets in close proximity to the field are observed on monitors from a command post located beyond the bullpens in center field.

"If someone notices anything that seems unusual, they immediately contact staff via radio," Paytas said.

A few fans have jumped the rail and roamed onto the field, but those instances have been rare.

"I think we do a great job as far as security is concerned," McClendon said.

McClendon wondered what would motivate a fan to go after someone on the field.

"All the cases I've seen first-hand is somebody wanting to get on TV," he said. "I'm not sure this is what this guy wanted to do. I think he had intentions of hurting the umpire."

THANKS, BUT NO THANKS

Outfielder Brian Giles had good reason for not seeking another opinion on his sprained right knee.

"I got one in Chicago and I got one from our doctor and they confirmed what I wanted to hear most -- that I don't need surgery," Giles said. "I can rehabilitate it and get back as soon as possible."

Giles had considered having MRI results forwarded to Dr. Tim Kremcheck, the medical director for the Cincinnati Reds. But he decided to go with the diagnosis that he will miss between 2-4 weeks. Today will mark one week since Giles slightly tore the medial collateral ligament in his knee while sliding into second base.

Giles doesn't know the precise date when he'll return. He made small progress yesterday, doubling his repetitions in the hydrotherapy pool. He will have a better idea about his return after he is re-examined in a week.

"We have to be realistic," he said. "It's not worth trying to be tough and come back a day or two early. You have to be smart about it and sure it's ready to go. Obviously, it's not going to be healed for a while, and I'm going to have to play with it being injured. There's that point as a player that you feel you can go out there and still perform."

STAIRS STARTS

Matt Stairs' sore left hamstring was healthy enough for him to play Saturday night after being limited to pinch-hitting duty for three games. His return gave the Pirates a left-handed power bat in the lineup that had been missing since Giles hurt his knee.

But if Giles had not been on the disabled list, Stairs might have tried to play through the injury.

"The reason why I shut it down for a few days was because Brian was on the DL," Stairs said. "Why take a chance and blow it out and miss the two or three weeks we're going to be without him?"

Stairs singled as a pinch-hitter in the ninth inning Tuesday night before leaving for pinch-runner Kip Wells. He didn't think he'd have any problem running the bases last night. He was more concerned with his defensive play.

"I'm not a speed demon," he said. "Thank God it's a short right field."

READY TO PITCH

Right-handed reliever Julian Tavarez wasn't used Monday night for a third consecutive game, but the reason wasn't because of his sore right hamstring.

"I'm able to go anytime they need me," he said. "I've been ready to go."

Tavarez said he was injured while pitching in the home opener against the Milwaukee Brewers. He pitched two-thirds of an inning Friday in Chicago but was not used the rest of the series.

"It's really no big deal," he said. "I told them I was able to pitch, but they wanted me to take a day or two off and get treatment."

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