PITTSBURGH -- The big question to the Pirates continues to evolve. At the beginning of the season, it naturally was, "Can you finish over .500?" Then it became, "Can you keep this up?"
And now, it is, "Can you handle this?"
"This" being the sudden acclaim and hype being heaped on a team with the Major Leagues' best record by a nation of media and fans discovering them.
Manager Clint Hurdle's control-the-grind and one-pitch-at-a-time mantras are being put to the ultimate test. He has indeed addressed it with his players.
"I've told them, 'You can't shut it out or ignore it, but you can control where it takes you. That's up to you,'" Hurdle said. "The lessons learned the past two years will be a strength for us moving forward. We're happy with what we've done, but it's not going to change the process.
"I'm just enjoying the ride and looking forward to when this city will be rocking. Somebody's got to hold the wheel; I didn't do a good enough job with the wheel last year."
Dealing with the new distractions by eliminating them is Job No. 1, and Hurdle has been big on the elimination part. He has been inundated with requests from national media, which he has been declining with a little chip on his shoulder.
"I've turned down a lot of media," he said. "We'll talk at the end, if there's any reason to talk. I don't need to talk to everybody who now wants a thought on the Pittsburgh Pirates, because a lot of these people didn't care about the Pittsburgh Pirates the first two years [I managed them]."
Tom Singer is a reporter for MLB.com and writes an MLBlog Change for a Nickel. He can also be found on Twitter @Tom_Singer. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.