BRADENTON, Fla. -- On the fields of Florida and Arizona, baseball players are working on playing the game right. Behind the scenes, players and managers are learning about playing the game differently.
The Pirates will be involved in post-practice Sunday meetings that will deal with the two major issues being introduced for the 2014 season.
Team player representative Neil Walker will participate in a gathering of Players Association officials to go over details of the proposed ban on plate collisions between catchers and baserunners. The players union has to ratify any change in that rule.
Concurrently, Bucs skipper Clint Hurdle and most of his coaching staff will represent one of six teams at an MLB presentation in Port Charlotte on the execution of expanded replay. It will be one of the MLB's barnstorming gatherings to go over rules governing the expansion of replay from merely boundary home run calls. The new rules will go into effect with the exhibition season, which the Pirates will begin with Wednesday's meeting with the Yankees in McKechnie Field.
Hurdle, along with managers of three or four other teams training in the vicinity, will get his first extensive debriefing on expanded replay since the Winter Meetings in early December.
"I've done my studies, and look forward to meeting with MLB," said Hurdle, who plans to use his manager's challenge "intelligently and with purpose to get a call right."
"There will be some strategy involved," Hurdle added. "It'll be like any other strategic move you make. That means, yeah, you're going to be second-guessed. That doesn't bother me. If I'm doing what in my heart I think is best for the club, I can live with 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.