MIAMI -- The Pirates are getting their first look at Marlins Park this week, but they are doing a lot more than admiring the new ballpark.
Clint Hurdle had his team on the field early Monday afternoon to work on defense and get accustomed to the new park. After years of facing the Marlins at Sun Life Stadium, Hurdle felt it was important to get Pirates players accustomed to the new playing field.
"That's one of the challenges that comes with all these new parks," Hurdle said. "You try to get here early and try to get yourself acquainted. It's a short test. Just 48 hours. Two games and you go. There is no safety net, and you just want to be as prepared as you can be."
That preparation included infield and outfield drills, as well as pitchers' fielding practice and some team defensive work.
"We were out early today for half an hour getting our defensive work in and acquainting our players with the field," Hurdle said. "We've never been here and our pitchers have never been on the mound, so we took advantage of the time we had to get everybody out there. I feel we're prepared and it will be fun to play here."
Hurdle noted that Marlins Park will present some interesting defensive challenges for his club.
"The infield is very quick and the outfield is very big," Hurdle said. "There are some nuances to the outfield like that notch just left of center field."
The notch is caused by the Marlins Park home run sculpture in left-center field. That is an area that speedy players like Andrew McCutchen, Jose Tabata and Alex Presley could take advantage of and turn doubles into triples.
But Hurdle also sees the expansive outfield as a way for the home team to take advantage of an inexperienced team that is still learning how to defend at Marlins Park.
"We will probably have to play our outfielders just a little bit deeper because of the ground behind them," Hurdle said. "You definitely will have to be aggressive and charge balls in front. This is their home park and they're checking depths and looking for opportunities to move up bases on balls hit. We've got to be sharp with that."