Minicamp: Hurdle opens his first camp preaching basics

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BRADENTON, Fla. -- Pirates manager Clint Hurdle, as he walked off the field early Monday afternoon after his first workout as leader of his new club, spoke of simplicity.

"Many good men have gone before me," Hurdle said at the Pirates' weeklong voluntary minicamp at Pirate City. "And we are not going to be teaching a whole lot of revolutionary ideas. We just have to get better at the basic fundamentals of the game."

The players there for the workouts that began in the early morning were hit with motivational message after motivational message infused into the instruction from Hurdle and his assembled staff.

For instance, as the team prepared for batting practice and players such as second baseman Neil Walker, first baseman Lyle Overbay and utilityman Steve Pearce stood nearby, Hurdle extolled the squad on the importance of how "championship teams make good outs, make your at-bats count, every one of them."

Hurdle spoke soon thereafter to a batting practice group huddled around him about the essential tenets of success: preparation, planning and execution.

Seems this minicamp gathering, on the first day at least, was just as much about a shift in the mood and escape from any lingering negativity after a 105-loss season as it was about instruction.

Almost all of the players expected to be at this voluntary minicamp have arrived to go through workouts, which run through Friday. First baseman/outfielder Garrett Jones was not in camp Monday but is slated to arrive later this week. Also, center fielder Andrew McCutchen is a possibility for later in the week.

Moskos matters

One player on the Pirates' 40-man roster at minicamp who understands he is going through an audition of sorts is left-handed relief pitcher Daniel Moskos. The 24-year-old former first-round pick had a combined 56 appearances last season between Class AA Altoona and AAA Indianapolis, throwing 582/3 innings out of the bullpen with 61 strikeouts and 22 saves.

With the Pirates' lack of left-handed relief pitching at the major league level, Moskos knows, starting now and running through spring training, he could be in a battle for such a job.

"Whether it is about left-handed pitching or right-handed pitching, you have to go out there and compete for a spot," Moskos said. "You are always having to compete. You can either thrive on it or shy away from it. Yes, there are lefty spots open, but nothing is going to be handed to anyone. You have to earn it."

A few years ago, such a role was foreign to Moskos, the fourth overall selection in the 2007 amateur draft. In 2008 and '09, Moskos started a combined 45 games between Lynchburg and Altoona before settling into something much more at ease -- coming out of the bullpen.

Such a move, he feels, has rejuvenated him.

"The organization and myself came to the conclusion, and it is something I am more comfortable with, that I am probably going to be a reliever," Moskos said. "That is good for me. If I can find a role that I am going to have success in, that is a great thing."

Julio signs deal

The organization yesterday agreed to terms on a minor league contract with right-handed relief pitcher Jorge Julio, but it does not include a major league camp invite. In nine seasons in the major leagues, used exclusively as a reliever, Julio, 31, has a 17-34 record and 4.43 ERA with 99 saves. He last pitched in the majors in 2009 with the Milwaukee Brewers.


Colin Dunlap: cdunlap@post-gazette.com or 412-263-1459.


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