Players trying to understand moves
Bucs once again stunned by loss of clubhouse favorites
PITTSBURGH -- As was the case when Nate McLouth was traded away on June 3, Tuesday's news came as a shock in the Pirates' clubhouse.
Hearing that Eric Hinske had been dealt away early in the day wasn't too huge of a surprise, considering he was expected to be coveted by some team in the next month looking to add a versatile, veteran player. But losing Nyjer Morgan and Sean Burnett, too? That was the stunner.
"There are certain guys that you think are going to get traded," said Jack Wilson. "It's the ones who you think are a part of the future, those are the ones that get you. Those are the worst. The feeling in your stomach is ... it's something that just came out of nowhere."
"They are building something," Wilson said, referring to management. "Unfortunately, none of us here are kind of seeing that direction. We understand that it's a business and that they have to do what they have to do to make the team better. Hopefully it does. I just know there are a lot of people in this clubhouse who aren't going to be here, so we don't care too much about it.
"We know that they're looking for the future, which doesn't say a lot about 2009. We understand that. They have a plan, and that's what they're trying to achieve. The biggest question is, when is that going to be? When do these things start turning around? It's hard for guys who have been here and have seen these exact trades happen and it mean absolutely nothing. I've been here for nine years and seen these trades two or three times every year and still haven't had a winning season. So, those haven't worked. You just hope that these do.
"It's tough to see great guys go, but you hope that eventually some of these trades will work out. They just haven't yet."
With those comments, Wilson summed up the collective feelings pretty well. There's a desire to want to believe in management's plan and recent actions to enact it, but there's understandable frustration in seeing more players exit for good.
"It's a pretty big hit for us," said first baseman Adam LaRoche, who, like Wilson, could very well be dealt in the next month. "If it's something that had to be done, fine. It's not our job to understand the big plan, I guess, of the future of this team. That's something that we have to leave up to them -- nothing we can do.
"We have to do the same thing that we did after Nate left and try and hold it together and keep guys in good spirits and wanting to go play and wanting to win," he added. "The last thing we want to do is make it miserable for guys to come to the field."
General manager Neal Huntington, well aware of the emotions in the home clubhouse, asked that the players try to put aside their personal feelings toward Morgan and Burnett and focus on the long-term intentions of these recent deals.
"Anytime you take away one of their friends, it's unsettling," Huntington said. "The human element is something we can't ignore, but our goal is to put an excellent team on the field and not to just put a bunch of nice guys out there. Every move we make is to get this team back on a winning track."
But, as Wilson described it, losing Morgan meant much more than saying good-bye to his speed in left and his aggressiveness on the basepaths.
"Nyjer was the heart and soul of this team," Wilson said. "If you needed someone to pick you up, you would go out and hang with Nyjer. What you saw on the field was not even close to what he brought to this team. Those type of caliber players -- what they bring to the team, people don't even see."
It also hit home with center fielder Andrew McCutchen, who, until Tuesday, had always watched these deals happen from afar.
"You almost want to cry, dude," McCutchen said of losing his fellow outfielder. "It's a great loss not just on the field, but off the field. It was great to have him by my side. When I got here, I knew him and I felt a lot more confident with him here. This is a great player that we lost. For him to go, it really hits you. It's hard to believe he's gone."
Jenifer Langosch is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.