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2011 Pittsburgh Pirates Are Not A Conventional Team

McHome In January, Pittsburgh Pirates new manager Clint Hurdle expressed "The Essential Tenets of Success". What he was speaking of was: Preparation, planning and execution.

One key execution area the Pirates worked on in spring       Philip G. Pavely Tribune-Review training was baserunning.

Pirates third base coach Nick Leyva said then, "We've really put a big emphasis on our baserunning." Baserunning was the first thing he had them do after stretching.

Hurdle expects the Pirates aggressiveness on the basepath to be known,to the point of defying conventional wisdom.

"We're looking for the defense to stop us, not for us to decide we can't make it," Hurdle said.

Sunday, Andrew McCutchen displayed the aggressiveness Hurdle is looking for. He attempted to score from third base when Jose Tabata hit a fly ball to right field with two outs and the Pirates down by three runs.

Take (Jason Werth's) arm: Was it a gamble? Absolutely," Hurdle said. "Did it not work out? Absolutely. Am I pleased with the agressive mentality? Yes, absolutely."

Karen Price, Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, reported Hurdle said he didn't ask whether McCutchen decided to go on his own or whether third base coach Nick Leyva sent him.

" I trust my third base coach implicitly," said Hurdle. "My guess is (Leyva) told him to go, and my guess is Andrew was going. I expected him to go. I would have been more shocked if he hadn't gone. Because one thing I told Nick in spring training is I don't ever want to wonder if he'd have been safe."

According to Price, Hurdle said before Monday's game against the Washington Nationals "We're not a conventional team. That book that everybody reads? Show me a copy, I'll read it with you... That book, if you look at the forward, it says, 'This is a manager's cover-his-backside book. If you stick to this book, you can never be second-guessed. Merry Christmas.' That more or less, is what it's for. My opinion."

The unconventional is going to cost the Pirates from time to time, but they are an exciting team to watch, producing runs in many different ways. For instance, they are playing small ball very well. They've executed 13 sacrifice bunts through the first 21 games, five of which have led to runs being scored.

Defying conventional wisdom seems to be motivating this club and appears to be just what the doctor ordered.



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