Hurdle sees hometown playing big role again
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DENVER -- As far as on-field performance, Pirates manager Clint Hurdle said there are only a few similarities between the Pirates this season and the 2007 Rockies team he managed to a World Series appearance.
But Hurdle said the way Denver rallied around its team reminds him of how Pittsburgh is starting to embrace the Pirates.
"We're seeing a lot more of the [Pirates] brand when we travel on the road," he said. "It was kind of similar to the situation in Colorado. We didn't see a lot of Colorado fans for a long time. Then, all of a sudden, they started popping up.
"I can remember a time here where it wasn't really cool for kids to wear the CR. It's kind of the way it had been in Pittsburgh. Now you go to our stadium, and the kids are proud."
The Rockies fired Hurdle after a lackluster start to the 2009 season, replacing him with Jim Tracy. But he said he does not get much satisfaction in bringing to Coors Field a team 10 games over .500 while the Rockies started the series 20 games under.
"The personal satisfaction that I get when I come here is when I walk out of this visiting dugout, I look and see that flag in left field knowing that I had a small part to do with hanging a National League championship flag here," he said.
About four months after the Pirates drafted Andrew McCutchen in June 2005, they hired Tracy as manager.
Their careers in Pirates uniforms could not have turned out much differently. McCutchen is a leading MVP candidate this season while Tracy was fired after two years on the job.
But Tracy, still with the Rockies, said McCutchen was a special prospect as they both started their Pirates careers.
"My first year in Pittsburgh was his first major league spring training as a non-roster player about 18 or 19 years of age," Tracy said. "That was 2006, and here we are in 2012 and we're having an awful lot of conversation about him.
"That gives you a little bit of an idea of the learning curve from being a very special player that's drafted and plays in the minor leagues and then comes to the big leagues and slowly but surely really starts to figure some things out and turns into the very special player that you thought he was going to be. That's kind of where he's at right now. That is where he's at right now."
Tracy said he hopes a lot of the Rockies' younger players -- especially catcher Wilin Rosario -- can develop as well as McCutchen has, from a special prospect to a special player.
McCutchen was named the National League's top player for a second consecutive week, Major League Baseball announced Monday.
In a three-game series against the Brewers, McCutchen went 7 for 12 (.583) with three home runs and 16 total bases. He also drove in four runs.
He is the second player to win the award in consecutive weeks this season; Los Angeles Dodgers center fielder Matt Kemp is the other.
The Pirates activated outfielder Alex Presley from the seven-day disabled list and optioned infielder Matt Hague to Indianapolis.
Presley missed eight games after sustaining a mild concussion while trying to make a diving catch July 3 against the Houston Astros.
He said his biggest concern, as he returns, is how he will handle time away from the game -- and not about lingering effects from his head injury.
"Everything I did to get cleared gave me confidence I was ready to go," he said. "It was the last thing on my mind, actually."
Hurdle said Presley got the at-bats he needed in Indianapolis -- Presley went 4 for 8 in two games -- and even dived to catch a ball in his rehabilitation outing.
Hague was 0 for 2 in two games in his most recent assignment with the Pirates.
First Published July 17, 2012 12:35 am