Pirates legends give their proteges a refresher course in what it takes to be good ... and stay good


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When Bill Virdon isn't busy at his home in Missouri, he flips on the broadcast of the Pirates game using his satellite dish.

"The first thing I do," he said. "I know the people, I'm used to watching and I enjoy it."

During the recent series against the Minnesota Twins, Virdon and Bill Mazeroski joined the Pirates at PNC Park to get a closer look at the team they spent time with in spring training. They were not teaching, Virdon said, so much as reminding.

"Most of your work is involved in spring training," Virdon said. "That's to get them ready to play. Emphasize after they leave spring training that if they don't continue to get that work ... their ability will gradually go downhill."

Virdon, 81, spent 12 seasons -- parts of 11 of them with the Pirates -- playing the outfield, so he spends his time there.

"If you've got [Andrew] McCutchen you're going to be in a good frame of mind anyway because he is a very good talent, he does a hell of a job and works hard," Virdon said. "The main thing is, just try to insinuate to him that you will not keep that talent unless you continue to work. Don't take it for granted."

Mazeroski worked with the infielders, wearing a glove, watching Neil Walker work the pivot or overseeing Josh Harrison taking grounders.

"I've been searching for ways to add value to everything we do throughout the season," manager Clint Hurdle said. "This isn't a fantasy camp thing. This isn't spring training. We're going to have them here to help coach and teach."

Virdon said the Pirates looked better leaving spring training than they did in 2011, though that impression can only be so instructive.

"You never know that until they start playing," he said. "They have to go out and show you, and then they've done that. I just hope it continues for the rest of the year."

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