Pirates Believe This Year’s Team is a Family

Players and coaches believe being close-knit will lead to more wins

Jeff Hathhorn
April 01, 2018 - 5:45 am
Josh Bell in dugout

93.7 the Fan

It’s one of the more debatable team-building concepts.  Does a close clubhouse promote winning?  Or does it not matter how they get along, it’s about the talent in the room.

The Pirates believe the former, maybe because they don’t have Cubs or Yankees talent.  But some who have been in successful organizations believe its key.

“We’ve got a lot of guys who are good people and who genuinely like hanging out with one another,” said reliever George Kontos, who won a World Series with the Giants in 2012.  “I think that’s first and foremost.  I’ve been on some teams when we’ve had unbelievable chemistry and we won world championships because of it.”

“I think (chemistry) is everything, you saw it last year with the Astros,” said Adam Frazier.  “They looked like brothers out there playing together.  That’s what it takes.  I’ve been a part of some winning teams.  That’s what it was, the chemistry is there.  The closer everybody is, all 25 guys, it usually leads to more wins.”

Starting pitcher Joe Musgrove was a part of that Astros team.

“The chemistry is stuff that you can’t really make-up or force or teach, it’s just something that happens,” Musgrove said.  “It seems like a pretty close group of guys and I know that the bonding and chemistry builds more through winning.”

Manager Clint Hurdle believes there is better communication now and guys are able to say what they feel and not bottle something up; which could lead to issues down the road.

“Especially with the narrative through the winter and then you watch how things are now,” Hurdle said.  “It’s a totally different deal.  If you are not in this vacuum, you can’t feel it or you haven’t been able to see it.”

“There’s been no hidden agendas.  At the end of the day we need to get all of the distractions off the table and get ready to play baseball.  I think that’s what they’ve done.  It needed to be done the first day we got here and it’s been happening every day since.” 

Some of that came from the candid words of infielder David Freese as camp opened.  Freese was critical of the team and some of what Hurdle said alluded to him.  Freese was also a World Series MVP with the Cardinals and believes this Pirates team has come a long way.

“You are going to have your ups and downs and I think having a group that loves on each other can make it seemless in the long haul, ” Freese said.

For first baseman Josh Bell, the team so likes each other it made them want to be better people.

“I think it’s huge,” Bell said of camaraderie.  “It’s the reason you lay your body in the line for the guy behind you and the guy in front of you.  It’s the reason you say no to certain foods.  You say no to certain opportunities to go out.  You’re playing for the guys around you. And when you have a clubhouse like ours, that is pretty close knit, you’re making the right decisions for the right reasons and definitely it pays off in the long run.”

“We are like family because the relationship we have is really good,” said catcher Elias Diaz.  “We are going to do something (special) this year.”