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Hurdle keeps pregame message simple

Hurdle keeps pregame message simple

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ST. LOUIS -- A couple of hours before the start of Thursday's Game 1 of the National League Division Series, someone wondered whether Clint Hurdle would go all Knute Rockne on his Bucs.

You know, lower his head and raise his voice. Maybe even crush an origami cardinal, for effect?

Those familiar with the Pirates and their regimen already knew the answer, of course. One of the manager's pet phrases, "The game doesn't know the game is important," is a reminder that the game itself doesn't change -- regardless of the stakes changing -- so neither should players' approach to it.

Doing something as irregular as giving a pregame speech obviously would bring the Pirates out of this sameness mode.

"No, I don't have rah-rah in me," Hurdle confirmed. "We've had a program set up all year. It hasn't changed because of the venue, it hasn't changed because of the opposition, and it's not changed because of the degree of the game or the fact that we're in postseason.

"We do prepare our men every series. We have [maybe] a 10-minute coach-up, coach-forward program. We speak one highlight from the past series, one thing we want to accentuate for the forward series. I get two minutes, the other eight coaches get one minute, and we go. That's it."

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.

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