Hurdle: It’s on Everybody to be a Better Base Runner

BRADENTON, Fla. — During the Pirates 4-2 loss to the Minnesota Twins at McKechnie Field on Saturday, speedy outfielder Nate McLouth was caught attempting to swipe two bases. So far this spring McLouth is 0-for-3 in stolen base attempts, but Pirates Manager Clint Hurdle wants his players to continue to be aggressive on the bases.

“One time he was safe,” Hurdle said. “That’s two butchered calls on Nate McLouth in the last two games he’s been in. When you slide and you’re standing up, you get called out. You can call it what you want, he’s safe. He was safe in Clearwater. The other time it was a pitch out.”

“Guys are going to get caught. We’re going to be aggressive and we’re going to run. We need to get our there and see what we can do on the bases. I’m very happy with our effort on the bases. I’m really happy when we’re working with leads, and we’re going to take some leads.”

Hurdle mentioned earlier this spring that Andrew McCutchen, Alex Presley and Jose Tabata all have green lights on the bases this season. The Pirates struggled to score runs during the 2011 season –ranking 24th in the Majors, and their 3.77 runs per game mark was 13th in the National League.

“We didn’t try to steal third base one time as a ball club last year, which was mind-boggling to me,” Hurdle said. “I can understand you don’t want to give up outs, but the opportunities are there.”

Presley worked hard over the offseason to improve his base running skills. So far this spring, Presley swiped one base over his five Grapefruit League games, and one during the Intrasquad game a week ago. Presley stole 31 bases last season –a number that you might see become higher this year.

“He went the other day, and he was out,” Hurdle said. “He got some experience doing it. He looked at it and the first thing he said was he could get a bigger lead. That’s the one thing we’re trying to push the envelope on. Just maximizing our leads, getting really good secondary leads, and then take it from there. Everybody can become a better base runner, and if you can all become better base runners, then you can your offense is going to be better. It’s on everybody to be a better base runner this spring. It’s on everybody to improve.”