MILWAUKEE — If Frank Coonelly had his way, the Pirates and Cleveland Indians would meet every season.
The teams will clash June 23-25, 2009 at PNC Park, but it’s not because Major League Baseball has given in to the Pirates team president’s request.
“We’ve let the commissioner’s office know it’s a great rivalry and the Indians should be designated our ‘natural rival’ for interleague play,” Coonelly said Sunday. “But I don’t believe our request is the reason for (the 2009 series). It’s because we’re playing the American League Central.”
MLB has tagged the Cincinnati Reds as the Indians’ rival, meaning the teams face off every year. The Pirates do not have an interleague rival … but Coonelly hasn’t given up.
“We’re excited about having the Indians come to PNC Park next year,” Coonelly said. “It will generate a lot of excitement and high attendance for us, and that we will continue to provide that information to the commissioner’s office.”
In June, there was a large turnout of Pirates fans for the interleague series at Camden Yards in Baltimore. However, the Orioles already are matched up as rivals for the Washington Nationals.
The Pirates will play five interleague series in 2009 — at home against the Indians, Detroit Tigers and Kansas City Royals, and on the road against the Chicago White Sox and Minnesota Twins.