Fun Fun Fun in the Florida Sun

Beautiful McKechnie Field, Spring Training Home of the Pittsburgh Pirates (Photo: Bradenton Marauders)
Beautiful McKechnie Field, Spring Training Home of the Pittsburgh Pirates (Photo: Bradenton Marauders)

Two Weeks!!!!! That’s all that stands between us and Opening Day 2014! We’ve still got tons of things going on around here to get ready for the big day and the big season (it is our Sweet 16 season after all!). GM Rob Egan has made it down to Florida to meet up with the coaching staff and give us some reports from the sun-splashed city of Bradenton. Rob flew down yesterday and has his first report for us from Spring Training.

Garcia, Staff Enjoy Rare Break
by Rob Egan

Bradenton, Fla. – At the end of one of their shorter work days of spring training, Curve manager Carlos Garcia and most of his coaching staff joined Curve owners Bob and Joan Lozinak and Sal Baglieri and me for dinner at Pier 22 near downtown.

Usually, minor league coaching staff members begin their day at the Pirate City complex before the sun comes up with 5 a.m. meetings to go over the day’s plans.  The players show up shortly thereafter and stretching, warmups, and hitting, pitching, and fielding drills follow. After that’s completed, the various level minor league teams get ready for their spring training games at either the multi-field Bradenton complex or they travel to another team’s facility and play there.  Once the 1 p.m. games are over, the staff reconvenes to go over that day and assess the progress of their teams and the individual players. It’s generally 5 p.m. or after before they are done for day.  Twelve-hour days are the norm.

On Wednesday, however, the staff and players enjoyed a rare respite.  “Camp Days”, such as the minor leaguers had on this day, start at the same time (5 a.m.), but the meetings and drills are condensed and the inter-squad games start at 10:30 a.m.  After the games are over, a brief meeting is all that separates the group from a cherished afternoon and evening off.

We were glad to see Carlos, pitching coach Stan Kyles, trainer Mike Zalno, player-coach Miles Durham, and newcomer Alan Burr, who will be the Curve’s strength and conditioning coach this season.  They all seemed relaxed and it’s always nice to have familiarity with a good number of returning staff members.  Ryan Long, who couldn’t attend the dinner because of another commitment, is back as our hitting coach again this year.  Also joining our dinner party were Curve clubhouse manager Jake Hundt and Joseph Baglieri, Sal’s son, who is an attorney based in Ft. Myers.

Toward the end of our get-together, we started talking about the make up of the 2014 Altoona Curve roster.  While there are ten more long days of spring training to settle the Major League and Minor League rosters that will open the season, most players know where they will be playing in late March/early April.  I’ll let you in on what the April 3 roster is likely to be for Altoona in tomorrow’s post.  Until then, stay warm!

Tourney Time

Whether you like the “First Four” or not, those games are now over and we’re set to start the NCAA Tournament tonight! Who do you have in your Final Four? Winning it all? Well…Al Tuna has made his own bracket after the Altoona Mirror asked him to be a VIP picker. Compare your picks along with Al’s and see if your “schools” (bad pun) match up with his!

Click below to view Al’s Picks

We also thought it would be fun to take a gander at the bracket and see how many former Curve players have their alma mater in the tourney. At quick glance, here’s some of the names that we were able to find and we’d only assume that these folks would still be rooting for their schools.

Florida – Jeff Corsaletti (2009)
Pitt – Jim Negrych (2008-10)
UCLA – Gerrit Cole (2011)
New Mexico – Justin Howard (2013)
Stanford – Jeff Inman (2012-13)Ari
Kansas – Tom Gorzelanny (2004-05)
Virginia – Jeremy Farrell (2011-12)
Memphis – Derek Hankins (2007-10)
North Carolina – Josh Bonifay (2003-05)
Cincinnati – Josh Harrison (2010)
UConn – Erik Turgeon (2012)
Arizona – Mike Colla (2010-12)
Oklahoma State – Jordy Mercer (2010-11)
San Diego State – Taber Lee (2005-07)
Nebraska – Tony Watson (2009-2010)
Oregon – Zack Thornton (2013)
Wichita State – P.J. Forbes (2011-12)
Arizona State – Drew Maggi (2012-13)

Might have missed a few so we’ll keep looking but it’s a good list to start.

Spring Things 

For those that might or might not know, has some of the most comprehensive coverage of the entire Pirates minor league system. It’s founder, Tim Williams, is based out of Bradenton and has been keeping up with both the Major League and Minor League side of things up until this point. Earlier this week and late last week Tim posted some of the players who have played in the minor league games for the Altoona squad up until this point. The links to those articles are below.

The Pitchers:

The Position Players:

That’s all for now…Mike and I have media guides and programs to finish! Oh and we’ll have some fun announcements next week about the All-Star Stop. Be on the watch for that.

— Mike

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