02/18/2013 5:19 PM ET
Hurdle happy with effort on fundamental drills
By Tom Singer / MLB.com
BRADENTON, Fla. -- Clint Hurdle has gotten an extended chance to see through the rebirth of the Pirates, who announced an extension to his contract as manager on Tuesday.
Hurdle, 55, was approaching the final year of the three-year contract he signed in November 2010. The 2014 option in that agreement has been exercised, and added was a club option for 2015.
"I feel privileged to have the opportunity to continue and finish what we started," said Hurdle. "There's no place I would rather be than in a Pirates uniform. I'm very humbled, and really look forward to the challenge in front of us."
Should he finish out the length of the contract, including the option year, Hurdle would become the first manager to serve a five-season stint with the Bucs since Jim Leyland guided them from 1986-96.
"We feel it's a good match, with my situation," said general manager Neal Huntington, himself given an extension through 2014 with an option for 2015 late during the 2011 season. "This is something we all felt more comfortable with.
"This is a conversation we've pretty much had since the day we hired him: When is the right time to put that extra year in place? And we felt now is the right time," Huntington added.
It was a quick process. According to Hurdle, the subject was first raised about a week ago, when Spring Training camp opened, and the conversations leading to the agreement occurred within the last 48 hours.
"There weren't really a lot of negotiations," Hurdle said. "A contract needs to work for everybody: For Bob (club chairman Bob Nutting), for Neal, for myself, and for the coaching staff and players."
"Clint Hurdle has played a significant role in the transition of an organization that has improved at the Major League level by 22 wins over the past two seasons," Huntington had said in a statement accompanying the announcement. "Clint's leadership, infectious positive energy, passion and knowledge transcend the clubhouse and we believe he is the right man to help us return championship-caliber baseball to Pittsburgh."
Hurdle's Pirates reached a peak of 16 games over .500 last season, when they sported a winning record for a stretch of 107 days through Sept. 18, though ultimately the club finished with a losing record for a 20th consecutive season.
However, the 79 wins marked an improvement over the 72 wins of 2011, which came following 105 losses in the season prior to Hurdle's appointment.
Hurdle's rally cry in 2012 following a similar late-season fade in 2011 had been, "Finish!"
With 685 wins as a big league manager, Hurdle will enter the season 15 victories shy of becoming the 11th active manager with at least 700 wins in the Major Leagues.
"We love Pittsburgh, absolutely," Hurdle said on Monday, including wife Karla and younger children Madison and Christian in that sentiment. "This is your opportunity to be a small part of a group accomplishing a goal. From the first day I took this job, I said I wanted to reconnect the city with its baseball team.
"There's still unfinished business, we haven't yet gotten where we want to get, but I think we did re-ignite the fan base to some degree."
McCutchen ready for work after hectic offseason
BRADENTON, Fla. -- Andrew McCutchen sounded relieved that the only running around he will have to do for the next seven months will be on the bases.
The Pirates outfielder spent the offseason collecting the spoils of his breakthrough 2012 season. At times, it felt like he was spending it in track shoes.
"It was pretty busy," McCutchen said with a smile. "Like I was telling my girlfriend a few days ago, 'Man, time for Spring Training? I sure didn't get much rest this offseason.'"
McCutchen had to "do media" after bagging such awards as Silver Slugger, Gold Glove and Players Choice NL Outstanding Player. He made trips to Pittsburgh for PirateFest and to accept the Dapper Dan Sportsman of the Year award, as well as his introduction as the regional front man for Habitat for Humanity. Then there was all the hoopla surrounding his successful campaign for the cover of the "MLB '13 The Show" video game.
"It was good. I had a lot of fun," McCutchen said. "I enjoyed all the accolades and everything. But when it's time to get to work, the page turns. And that time's here."
• Pittsburgh club chairman Bob Nutting will be in town for Wednesday's unveiling of renovations to McKechnie Field and on Thursday morning will be in Pirate City for his annual address to the team. In between, he is expected to preside over a news conference to formally announce manager Clint Hurdle's contract extension.
• Short "winter" -- Monday morning's temperature was 35 degrees when the Pirates began their day at camp; when they finished, it was 70.
• To truly appreciate Andrew McCutchen's athleticism, you have to watch him make behind-the-back catches of 380-foot flies while shagging in center during batting practice.
• Nobody in camp calls Starling Marte by his proper first name. He is "Sterling" to everybody. Probably not an inadvertent slip.
• The Bucs' lone intrasquad game of the spring is on the slate for Friday, a 5 1/2-inning match between Black and Gold squads.
• The Sixth Annual Pirates Charities Spring Training Golf Classic will follow Thursday's workouts, at the Bradenton Country Club.
"Thatta boy! That's you right there, Clint! Two bases!" -- Pirates legend Manny Sanguillen, shouting encouragement from his on-field lawn chair while watching Clint Barmes pepper the left-center alley with line drive after line drive during batting practice.
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.