BRADENTON, Fla. - Bob Nutting, the Pirates' new principal owner, addressed the team's staff, coaches and players this morning and, by all accounts, stressed in his speech that ownership is committed to winning.
"We wanted to make sure they knew our commitment to winning, how important that is to me and the fans," Nutting said outside the Pirate City cafeteria, where the group was gathered for the half-hour session. "That was the primary message. And the other thing I wanted to make sure they understood was my commitment for the direction in which the team is moving, as well as my support for the existing management team. It was very important that they hear that directly from me."
Nutting told the players he had confidence in chief executive officer Kevin McClatchy, general manager Dave Littlefield and manager Jim Tracy, as well as the baseball operations staff's general plan to build from within.
"The message is that our fans are hungry and the organization is just as hungry. We need to see continued improvement. We need to have patience to stick with the plan. But, really, I think the point where we need to start showing things is right now. I think we have a great opportunity this year."
McClatchy said he detected more of an upbeat feeling, top to bottom, in the organization.
"There's no question, I think, from talking to coaches, players, everyone here, there's a lot more confidence," he said. "I told the players today, 'The past is the past. We can't worry about it. We just have to focus on what's ahead of us.' And I think most people in that room believe that what's ahead of us is pretty positive."
Also this morning, outfielder Xavier Nady was tested for possible chronic conditions related to his inflamed intestine ??? including Crohn's disease ??? but results are not due until tomorrow.
"The tests are being evaluated, but there's no new word," general manager Dave Littlefield said.
Nady showed up briefly at Pirate City in full uniform, but he did not participate in workouts.
More details in tomorrow's Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.