Pirates Notebook: Players-only meeting credited
Ali McMutrie of Ben Avon Heights throws out the first pitch at the Pirates season opener against the Dodgers at PNC Park, Monday. McMutrie and her sister Jamie brought a number of orphans from earthquake-ravaged Haiti earlier this year.
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As much credit as there was to spread for the Pirates' 11-5 rout of the Los Angeles Dodgers in the season opener Monday at PNC Park, some of it probably should go back to a previously undisclosed event last Thursday night in Philadelphia.
It was there, as several veteran players confirmed after the opener, that everyone on the roster was asked to meet at a steakhouse -- just after flying in from Florida -- across the street from the team's hotel to discuss how best to change the team's attitude and approach after 17 years of losing and a mostly miserable spring.
The meeting was convened by outfielder Ryan Church, infielder Bobby Crosby, closer Octavio Dotel and reliever Brendan Donnelly, but many players stood up, according to Church, and "spoke their piece."
"All over the winter, through spring training, you hear about, you know, 17 years, this and that," Church added. "We brought everybody together and talked about, 'Why not? Why not this year?' I think a lot of people in here really looked in the mirror. Mostly, it was just guys sick and tired of being sick and tired, that kind of stuff. So it's like, let's change it. Let's change what people say about us."
"There were a lot of issues that were addressed, and a lot of people got their point across," catcher Ryan Doumit said. "People walked out of there feeling pretty good."
"That was a great meeting," shortstop Ronny Cedeno said. "Now, we've got a different attitude. I'm so glad that we have Dotel, Church, Crosby, Donnelly here. They've got a lot of time in the big leagues. If we just stay together and do everything with the same attitude we did today, we've got a good team and can surprise a lot of people."
Outfielder Brandon Moss, designated for assignment last week, cleared waivers and was outrighted to Class AAA Indianapolis. Thus, he remains the Pirates' property.
Indianapolis' starting outfield will have Moss, Jose Tabata and Brandon Jones.
Zach Duke allowed two Los Angeles runs in the first inning on Matt Kemp's two-out single, but he put up four zeroes after that despite at least one hit in each inning to earn the victory in his second opening-day start.
"The big thing for me was putting up those zeroes," Duke said. "I wasn't my sharpest, and I had to battle."
The Pirates could demote starter Daniel McCutchen to Indianapolis after his start Saturday in Phoenix, though not necessarily for an extended stretch. His place would be taken by reliever Joel Hanrahan, eligible to come off the disabled list Friday but now, according to manager John Russell, coming off next Monday to join the team in San Francisco.
Because of three off-days in the season's first 15 days, a fifth starter is needed only twice in April. Such a move would allow management to get a longer look at new reliever Hayden Penn.
Los Angeles has a payroll of $94 million, with $18.7 million of that going to star slugger Manny Ramirez. That is about three times the size of the Pirates' $35.4 million payroll, but Dodgers manager Joe Torre dismissed it as a decisive factor.
"I don't think you should be judged by payroll," Torre said. "I think you have to have somebody who's making decisions and stay with them, you know? It's healthy if you're going to try to retool something, you've got to do what's comfortable for you. What's more important than anything else -- and, unfortunately, nowadays it's very difficult to get -- is the patience you need to build an organization. Because we're not a patient society anymore."
Of the Pirates specifically, he added, "They've got some talent, no question."
• Los Angeles starter Vicente Padilla did not lose his sense of humor after giving up two home runs to Garrett Jones, including one that bounced into the Allegheny River. Padilla noticed on the video scoreboard that a kayaker quickly scooped up the ball. "Congratulations to the fan who caught the ball," Padilla said dryly. "Maybe he could sell it and buy fish."
• The opening victory was the Pirates' fourth in a row, the first time for that many in a row since six in 1935-40.
• Only two players in the Pirates' starting lineup were back from the one in 2009, with only seven players back from the 25-man roster.
First Published April 6, 2010 12:00 am