CLEVELAND -- The Pirates' early-season offensive struggles were compounded by a rash of outs they kept running into on the bases. From getting caught stealing to getting caught trying to advance an extra base, the gaffes kept raising eyebrows.
There was a method to that madness, however: Raising the Bucs' identity as a daredevil, running team. Mission far from accomplished, but manager Clint Hurdle is committed to seeing it through.
This is more about reputation and trepidation than execution. It is certainly more about mere numbers like stolen-base percentage, although the Pirates are trending up in that regard, with 11 thefts in their last 13 attempts. Andrew McCutchen leads the team with 13 stolen bases in 17 attempts.
"As soon as we walk into a place," Hurdle said, "one of the first things that will come up in scouting reports is, 'Guys, these guys will move on the bases. We've gotta be sharp. We've gotta handle the ball.'
"It's an important part of our identity, that we're known as a team that will move on the bases. It helps the mentality, and puts more pressure on the defense. Guys know they've got to catch it, get it in the air. No time for bobbles, no time for misses, no time for clangs."
As a player, Hurdle grew up in that type of environment, suiting up for Whitey Herzog both in Kansas City and in St. Louis.
"With Whitey, it was 'Get up and go,'" Hurdle said. "I wasn't one of the speed guys, but I was encouraged to run and take the extra base, go for hustle doubles. We're not there yet, but we're gonna get there -- if it kills me."