07/16/12 9:33 PM ET
Pirates get Presley back at top of lineup
By Tom Singer / MLB.com
Hurdle proud of accomplishments with Rox
DENVER -- An understandably hot topic that has followed the Pirates around for six weeks -- kudos for and analysis of their surprising contention -- naturally got amplified at Coors Field, in Clint Hurdle's former hot spot.However, while doling out the usual share of props for the guys playing for him, Hurdle declined to acknowledge any of the personal satisfaction to which he seemed entitled. Returning with a contender to the scene of one's dismissal three years ago should be worth a few points. Still, Hurdle said it's "not about personal satisfaction for me. If I can coach them up, as much off as on the field, that's fine." The highlight of Hurdle's 6 1/2 seasons as Colorado manager was the 2007 steamroll into the postseason and ultimately into the World Series. "The personal satisfaction I do get here," Hurdle said, "is looking at that flag in left field, and knowing I played a small part in hanging a National League championship flag in a place where, for so many years, I was told it could not be done." Kinda like what Pittsburgh has listened to for two decades? "We brought good times [to Denver] for so many people who'd been through trying times," Hurdle said. "That's what we're building [with the Pirates]. People who have been around for so long are starting to get loud and proud."
"We aren't scheduled as teams' homecoming opponent anymore."
-- Clint Hurdle's way of saying that the improved Pirates are no longer looked upon as an easy team by the rest of the National League.
This series is between the teams with the two shortest-winded starting rotations in the National League. The oddity is that the Rockies' 5.1 innings per start reflects the 75-pitch limit on all of their starters, while Pirates starters, with no such restrictions, were averaging only 5.7 innings per start prior to Monday night's game. Among (many) other things, Andrew McCutchen leads the National League with 13 home runs with men on base, out of his total of 21 prior to Monday's game. Shortstop Clint Barmes was pumped up for this series, hoping to continue his success against the only two other teams for which he played prior to signing as a free agent with the Pirates. Barmes, an overall .206 hitter, entered Monday's game batting .322 (10-for-31), with one homer and four RBIs, in seven games against Houston and Colorado.
Tom Singer is a reporter for MLB.com and writes an MLBlog Change for a Nickel. He can also be found on Twitter @Tom_Singer. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.