Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Hurdle Pleased Players Are Following Offensive Plan Pirates Notebook

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Hurdle Pleased Players Are Following Offensive Plan Pirates Notebook

Article excerpt

BRADENTON, Fla. -- The mentality the Pirates used in their spring training at-bats has contributed to their performance at the plate.

Manager Clint Hurdle said Saturday he was pleased with his players' approaches in spring games, something he wanted to see improve from last season.

"I was very encouraged by the way we've gone about following a game plan offensively, the way the individuals have paid attention and ramped up their individual offensive game, and connected the dots to an overall team offensive perspective," he said.

The Pirates have hit .278 in spring training, seventh in the National League, after hitting .244 in the 2011 regular season. The quality of pitchers teams face in the spring and the fact that opposing rotations are fine-tuning aspects of their game render spring statistics less important -- for example, the San Diego Padres, who finished last in the NL with a .237 average in the 2011 regular season, are hitting a league-leading .296 this spring -- but Hurdle said carrying the success into the season requires retaining the principles the team practiced in the spring.

"You anticipate facing a better volume of pitching, most definitely [once the season starts], but at the same time, big league pitchers make mistakes," Hurdle said. "Be ready to hit strikes and take walks when they're presented."

Leroux ditches changeup

Chris Leroux has stopped throwing a changeup.

"Just be a power pitcher at the end of the bullpen," Leroux said of the directive given him.

He said he has gone without the changeup his past three outings, and has fared well: three scoreless innings, four strikeouts. Leroux is competing for one of the spots in the bullpen, but said he had not been told what his role might be.

Deal made

The Pirates acquired right-hander Robby Rowland from the Arizona Diamondbacks in exchange for right-hander Brett Lorin, whom the Diamondbacks selected in the December Rule 5 draft. …

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