PITTSBURGH -- The guy pitching batting practice early Thursday in PNC Park to Hines Ward, and gregariously enjoying it, was Clint Hurdle. Unlike some others who maybe couldn't ignore their athletic-challenge DNAs against the recently retired NFL and Steelers great, the Bucs manager figured he'd be good for teeing up some cookies.
"I tried to throw it where he's swinging, trying to find his happy spot," Hurdle said. "Hey, he's a top-of-the-lineup guy. He can really run. Like I tell our young players, if they can run and hit fly balls, there's a job for them: It's at WalMart."
After his pregame workout, visit and photo-ops with the Bucs, Ward threw out the ceremonial first pitch prior to series finale with the Nationals.
"It was an honor for us to have him out here," Hurdle said. "With all the footprints and memories he left on the city of Pittsburgh, it was a special opportunity."