Pirates' running game not yet up to speed

Pirates' running game not yet up to speed

PITTSBURGH -- The 2012 season hasn't even ended yet, and one can assuredly make a call on what will be the Pirates' biggest improvement in 2013: Running, and stealing, bases.

An easy call, because there's nowhere to go but up. Before Saturday night, the Bucs had stolen 69 bases in 121 tries, a 57 percent success rate that was the Majors' lowest; Arizona was next at 64 percent.

Also because the alarming failure rate has the club's full attention, and will lead to added emphasis on coaching speedsters how to use that talent. Andrew McCutchen was 20-for-32, Starling Marte was 10-for-15, Alex Presley was 9-for-16 entering Saturday.

Mostly, though, because manager Clint Hurdle conceded Saturday that when it comes to the Pirates tapping their run potential, "there's more there."

The last time Hurdle used that exact phrase was a year ago, about the Bucs' power production as they were wrapping up the 2011 season 12th in the National League with 107 homers. Essentially the same group now has 166 home runs, fourth in the league and within reach of the club record of 171 established in 1999.

"We haven't run the bases in line with the skill-set we have," Hurdle said. "There's more bags to be had. Our stolen-base ratio isn't anywhere close to what it should be, or what we're capable of."