By Chris Adamski
BRADENTON, Fla. — ‘Morning, yinz. You’re stuck with me over the next week. It won’t be easy filling the hoes of the talented Mr. Biertempfel, but I’ll try.
Anywho… What had been known since the beginning of the week was officially announced Thursday: the Pirates gave up a home game against the rival Cardinals to play in Williamsport on ESPN during the Little League World Series.
Tony Watson made his professional debut at Bowman Field, and Jared Hughes made his professional debut playing for the short-season Class A team in Williamsport, the Crosscutters. Others among the 60 other players at major league camp certainly have played at Bowman Field, too.
But Clint Hurdle actually managed in Williamsport – the old Bills, then a Class AA Mets affiliate – more than a quarter of a century ago (in 1991). The Bills, led by future MLB all-star (and future forgettable Pirate) Jeromy
Burnitz (he hit 31 home runs in 135 games that season — TWELVE more than anyone else in the Eastern League — AND stole 31 bases — ELEVEN more than any of his peers that season), the Bills went 60-79 and in seventh place among eight teams. (Burnitz, meanwhile, was given $6 million to play 2006 in Pittsburgh, and was out of baseball after those 111 games).
Never one to pass up an opportunity to reminisce, Hurdle relayed on some memories from his six months in Billtown (seriously, that’s Williamsport’s nickname).
“(Bowman Field) will be in much better shape than when I was there in 1991 – Major League Baseball has guaranteed us that,” Hurdle said. “I lived about 15 miles north of town in Tommy Herr‘s hunting cabin in a little town called Trout Run. I spent a lot of time in Bowman Field. We had left Jackson (Mississippi, the Mets’ Double-A home for the previous 17 seasons), the Binghamton (N.Y.) ballpark (where the Double-A Mets still call home) wasn’t finished yet. We needed to find a free-agent site to play one season, and we found Williamsport and we played in the Eastern League. So I’m very familiar with Bowman Field.
“(The MLB Little League Classic game) will be a huge draw. Huge draw. I think it’s going to be a great night for baseball within that venue to reignite the younger kids that are playing in town. The city is electric that time of year anyway. It should be fun.”
>>> You want links? I’ve got links:
“If he’s a secret, he probably won’t be a secret for too long.”
Starling Marte injured… in an exhibition… in preparation for the WBC… and against the Pirates, no less. And other refreshing notes…
Alen Hanson runs into another out, Chris Bostick takes his shots at CF, Chad Kuhl “feels real good physically” and more from Thursday’s game. Plus, this cool photo of Barett Barnes from Chris Horner:
>>> Friday’s game: Rays (6-5) at Pirates (10-3), 1:05 p.m., LECOM Park, Bradenton. TV: Root, Radio: 93.7.
Pirates: Max Moroff 4, Jordy Mercer 6, Josh Bell 3, David Freese 5, John Jaso 9, Chris Stewart 2, Jose Osuna 7, Eury Perez 8, Hutchison 1.
Also pitching for Pirates: LH Tony Watson, RH Juan Nicasio, RH Daniel Hudson, RH Donvydas Neverauskas, RH Edgar Santana.
Rays: Lineup TBA.
Also pitching for Rays: RH Matt Andriese, RH Jamie Schultz, RH Ryne Stanek, RH Chih-Wei Hu, RH Hunter Wood.
>>> Saturday’s game: Pirates (10-3) at Orioles (7-5), 1:05 p.m., Ed Smith Stadium, Sarasota. Radio: 93.7 The Fan.
Orioles: Lineup TBA. RHP Mike Wright
Also pitching for Orioles: RH Gabriel Ynoa, RH Darren O’Day, LH Donnie Hart, RH Oliver Drake
Pirates: Lineup TBA. RHP Clay Holmes.
Also pitching for Pirates: RH Nick Kingham, RH Jared Hughes, LH Antonio Bastardo, RH Josh Lindblom, LH Dan Runzler.
Also Saturday, RH Ivan Nova (60-65 pitches) and RH Angel Sanchez (20 pitches) are scheduled to pitch in a minor-league game at Pirate City.
Chris Adamski is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org or via Twitter @C_AdamskiTrib.