BRADENTON, Fla. - New Pirates manager Clint Hurdle had the first workout of spring training circled on his calendar for months, and when the day did arrive on Monday, it went off without a hitch.
"A great first day," he called Day One of Camp Hurdle at Pirate City.
"It was clean and efficient out there today," Hurdle went on to say. "The intensity was where it needed to be. The volume of work is what we looked for. The focus was good. The weather was great."
Hurdle was encouraged by the turnout, as several position players were on hand early. They were required to report no later than Friday.
"We got rumblings that a bunch of them would show up, and they did," he said. "It's nice to see those guys out there. It's another sign that they've taken accountability and responsibility for what's in front of us."
The most obvious difference between Hurdle and predecessor John Russell was his frequent interaction with the players. Between serious baseball talk, he shook hands with some and exchanged laughs with others.
"You can't tell much from one day, but yeah, I did notice a slight difference already," outfielder Garrett Jones said. "He was fired up, yet he kept it loose. He let us know that this is supposed to be fun, but at the same time, we're here to be serious and get better. You can tell that (the atmosphere) will be upbeat with him around."
Said pitcher Chris Resop, "Clint is a high-energy guy, and a younger team needs that. When I was with the (Atlanta) Braves, (manager) Bobby Cox didn't say much. A lot of us knew what to do already, but we were veterans. That's not the case as much here."
Hurdle instructed the team to perform with a sense of urgency, a message that coach Nick Leyva re-enforced in infield drills. When shortstop Josh Rodriguez gave up on a groundball that was out of his reach, Leyva said, "Hey, J.R., you're gonna have to make a play like that once in awhile."
"We don't have time to come out and have just another day,'" Hurdle said. "They were encouraged to come out every day with a couple focus points to get something done and make themselves better, which will make us a better team. That's how we'll turn this thing around."