Pirates to see plenty of NL Central in April

Pirates to see plenty of NL Central in April

PITTSBURGH -- Schedules always make for a fun early-season topic. The last two years, the Pirates had extremely tough first-quarter slates.

This time around, the Bucs have it tough because their first 26 games will be against National League Central foes, at least potentially setting the tone for the entire campaign.

Twenty of those games will be against co-contenders St. Louis (beginning with this weekend's series in PNC Park), Cincinnati and Milwaukee.

Pirates manager Clint Hurdle just shrugged.

"It's the schedule," Hurdle said. "Every year we get a new one, and we always have conversations about it.

"It's always important to play well in the division, and we've got that challenge right away. Will the division be as competitive as it was last year? Time will tell; I don't think anyone foresaw three of the teams having 90-plus wins. I do believe it will continue to be challenging, and strong."

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.