PITTSBURGH -- If the players take their manager's advice, quite a few Pirates will be active in Latin America's Winter Leagues this offseason. In the customary exit interviews, Clint Hurdle has not been shy about steering several younger players in that direction, believing the experience can help them grow both as athletes and as men. "There are six to 10 guys I've talked to point-blank about playing winter ball," Hurdle said. "I've been blunt about how that can help them. "More at-bats, especially for some guys challenged by spin and soft stuff. You want to see changeups and breaking balls? Go to Mexico. I'm an absolute believer in the benefits."
Hurdle declined to identify the players getting the winter ball card, for sound reason: A year ago, there was open talk about wanting Pedro Alvarez to play in the Dominican League; when he chose not to, it grew into a controversy.