The Pirates woke up Saturday to the best record in baseball: 49-30.
That view from the top perch in the National League Central Division, a game ahead of the St. Louis Cardinals, put the Pirates smack in the middle of their best season in some 20 years.
Yet manager Clint Hurdle refused to get ahead of himself, saying there's a long way to go before those numbers really add up.
"I think you've got to acknowledge it's the best season we've had in 20 years, so far," Hurdle said. "Be easy to please, hard to satisfy. The players are that way. I'm that way. Yes we're happy with what we've done. But we understand there's many more miles on this road to travel. The lessons we've learned from the past two years, I think, are instrumental and going to be strength for us moving forward."
Hurdle said the team will continue to control the grind, eliminate distractions and get a little better each day.
"Lastly, they don't break trophies in half. They never have, they never will," Hurdle said. "So we've got to continue to believe in the process of what we're building here and acknowledge the fact it's gotten us to a workable place. But there's more out there."
Outfielder Andrew McCutchen, who has a hit in six of his past seven games, said there was no extra spring in his step when he woke up to sole possession of first place.
"Every game counts, but it's not the end of the season," McCutchen said. "A record can fluctuate just like stats do, up and down.
"We're not really worried about it. We've still got a lot of games to play. That's something we can assess at the end of the season."
Hurdle was briefly incredulous when he remarked on some of the things he said he hears from the public when he's about town.
"You know how many times I still hear it? 'What's going to happen late?' I don't know, watch. Stay tuned," Hurdle said of fans wondering if there will be another collapse. "I believe I know what's going to happen, but you know there's people who are never going to believe. Actually, I think there's some people here who hope we don't pull it off. That sounds crazy, doesn't it?
"I can't control other people's emotions. I just kind of enjoy the ride, the perspective of it all going on, and know there's going to be a day when this city will be rocking and people are going to be happy and it's going to be all good. That's what I believe. ... Somebody's got to hold the wheel."
Wandy Rodriguez was shut down from throwing because of "continued tightness in his left forearm" according to the Pirates, news that negates any immediate need to make a roster move with the pitching staff.
"Wandy, right now, his session I don't think went as well as we anticipated," Hurdle said. "We're having a little discussion right now about what's next. ... He didn't feel good."
A.J. Burnett threw a 38-pitch bullpen session Friday and is scheduled to throw a simulated game Tuesday.
"I think we're happy with his progress so far, absolutely," Hurdle said. "That's our biggest question, his ability to get off the mound, cover first, balls over there, bunt play, anything of that nature. We'll recreate some of those challenges for him."
James McDonald is scheduled to see Dr. Keith Meister next week in Dallas for a second opinion on his shoulder injury.
Kyle McPherson also was shut down from throwing after experiencing pain in his right elbow/forearm in his most recent bullpen session.
Hot after off days
The Pirates were 8-0 after days off before opening a series Friday night against the Brewers.
They're now 9-0 with another off day scheduled Monday.
Hurdle said that's no coincidence.
"I know we were bad last year. It's something that really bothered me, to the point that [bench coach Jeff Bannister] and I really sat down and wrestled with some things," Hurdle said.
The plan, he said, was about fixing the team's approach.
"What we tried to do was help them recreate their mindset. Finish the series at hand, put everything you got into finishing the series. Then just go home and be home," Hurdle said. "In other words, just be where you are."
First Published June 30, 2013 4:00 AM