Pirates beat Braves in home snow-pener

Francisco Cervelli home opener HR

After hitting only one home run last season, Francisco Cervelli launched a solo shot in the home opener…

Cervelli HR bleachers

…And Pirates fans in the left-field bleachers at PNC Park went nuts

Nick DeSantis

Nick DeSantis of Hopewell caught Cervelli’s home-run ball (but gave it to guest services to get autographed)

My column centers around the back-to-back home runs by David Freese and Francisco Cervelli, and the Pirates fan who braved the frigid weather for the home opener and caught a memory.

Jordy Mercer scores vs Braves

Jordy Mercer scores past Braves catcher Kurt Suzuki in the fourth inning

https://twitter.com/Pirates/status/850728712764964870

Rob Biertempfel writes about how shortstop Jordy Mercer’s magic saved the Pirates.

McCutchen home opener

Andrew McCutchen singled in the first and went 3 for 4 against the Braves…

McCutchen sliding catch vs Braves

… and made this sliding catch in the fifth inning

Andrew McCutchen helped the Pirates offense break out of slump, writes Chris Adamski.

clint hurdle intro at home opener

Pirates manager Clint Hurdle: ‘Where I’m at, I don’t know. I don’t feel I’m at the end. I feel I’m in a sweet spot as far as learning. This game has changed dramatically since my first year as a manager, and there’s part of that that really invigorates me and excites me’

In the Pirates notebook, manager Clint Hurdle finds more balance between work and family, writes Jerry DiPaola.

Hot Dog Man

David ‘Chico the Hot Dog Man’ Sakulsky gets the crowd going

A Pirates fan photo gallery from Trib photographers

Nate Smallwood goes behind the scenes to show how the Pirates grounds crew preps PNC Park.

Chad Kuhl vs Rays

Chad Kuhl will start for the Pirates against knuckleballer R.A. Dickey of the Braves

And Rob Biertempfel chimes in with his own thoughts on the From the Cheap Seats blog.

Biertempfel also gives you the scouting report for Saturday’s game against the Braves.

ON THE SOUTH SIDE

Ben Roethlisberger vs Ravens

Big Ben: ‘Informed the team I am looking forward to my 14th season. Steeler Nation will get my absolute best!’

Steelers QB Ben Roethlisberger erased any doubt about his playing status for 2017, writes Joe Rutter.

ON THE ICE

Evgeni Malkin is up for new challenges, writes Bill West.

In the Penguins notebook, West writes that Carl Hagelin returned to on-ice activity.