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Coonelly’s speech

BRADENTON, Fla. — Today’s round of workouts at Pirate City was about as mundane as possible. Pitchers worked on pitchouts, as well as the always exciting “sudden-look-at-first-base-and-hold-the-ball-in-the-air” drill. Most of the players were done in about two hours. There were 30 minutes of fundamental instruction — grounders! grounders! grounders! — and then everyone practiced catching pop-ups.

Prez Frank Coonelly addressed the team during a 9:15 a.m. meeting. Owner Bob Nutting also was supposed to attend, but he is ill and remained in Wheeling, W.Va.

Coonelly ran through the areas where he believes the Pirates have made progress since last year — the draft, player development, scouting, international player acquisition, facilities upgrades. He also pointed out that the Tampa Bay Rays were not expected to win last year, yet wound up in the World Series: “The Rays didn’t listen to what they press and pundits were saying. They believed in themselves. I told (the Pirates players) they need to believe in themselves. They need to believe in the teachers we have here. They need to believe in their teammates. Let’s set our own expectation levels, and that level is we’re going to win this year.”

Coonelly told the players he believes the franchise has made a lot of progress in the past year: “We worked hard and I expected to accomplish a lot. I was pleased with what we were able to accomplish. The thing we didn’t accomplish last year was winning at the major league level. At the end of the day, accountability is going to be winning at the major league level. The players understand that and I understand that.”

Shortstop Jack Wilson had an interesting take on what was said at the meeting. But if I gave all that away now, you’d have no reason to pick up the newspaper in the morning, right?

Here’s one snippet from reliever John Grabow: “I think (Coonelly’s speech) was pretty positive. He basically laid out the guidelines of what we need to do, and told us Pittsburgh’s waiting for a winner. We’ve got to go out there and get it done. Looking around, I can see some of the guys have a little more confidence. Guys like Ryan (Doumit) and (Nate) McLouth seem like they have more confidence.”

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