Nutting: Pirates must commit to winning title

Nutting: Pirates must commit to winning title

BRADENTON, Fla. -- Pirates owner Bob Nutting traveled to Bradenton over the weekend, and, in what has become an annual occurrence each spring, addressed players and staff inside the Pirate City cafeteria before Monday's workout.

The speech was closed to the media, though Nutting relayed some of the main points of the message during a session with reporters shortly afterward.

"It's critically important that they understand, and we all understand, that 2011 is not going to be a year where small bits of incremental progress are adequate," Nutting said. "I reminded them that the goal of the organization has been, since the day I got started, to build an organization that can compete and win a championship. Until we can win a National League championship, we're not going to be satisfied with incremental progress."

This increase in expectations was Nutting's primary point of emphasis. He did not attach a specific number of wins when asked what would constitute success in the upcoming year. However, Nutting did set the bar high for a team coming off a 105-loss season.

"As an organization, I think we need to commit to winning a championship," he said. "There may be steps to get there, but until we get there, we can't say that we have achieved our goal. I don't think a number is important. What is important is that we have a clear goal at the end of the day and that we keep our eye focused on that process."

Nutting, who was attending his second day of workouts, lauded the job done by manager Clint Hurdle and his staff. He also answered in the affirmative when asked if he felt the Pirates have a better Major League club than they fielded a year ago.

One question not answered on Monday was who would be held responsible should the team not show tangible on-field improvement this season. Nutting declined to speculate on the topic, saying that he preferred to keep the attention on the here and now.

"It's not the right time to start speculating on, 'What if we fail?'" he said. "What we need to do is be focused on what the goal is, what the target is and be committed to achieve it. I think it's too early to start speculating. That's not productive. That's not the right use of energy. That's not the right place for us to focus as an organization."