McKechnie Field Renovations

It will be a few weeks before I’ll be down there to see for myself, but the Pirates put together a promo video about the new renovations to McKechnie Field.

Not a big fan of the new beige exterior instead of what used to be a clean white finish, but that’s a minor detail. The big news is the new flip-down seats, which will be a godsend to anyone that spent any time in the old molded plastic ones. It will be great to walk around the entire park as well.

Chase d’Arnaud makes “The Onion”

The Onion, America’s Finest News Source, has a feature article today that is completely not about Chase d’Arnaud fielding a routine ground ball. The author quotes the player’s manager, who is not Clint Hurdle and complements the quality of the field, which is not McKechnie. Go read it, quickly now.

Spring Training 2012: Saturday 3/24 McKechnie Field Recap

Ed. note: Travel delays and prior commitments kept me from getting this posted sooner.

PirateFest was going on today, but I went to Pirate City instead. Luckily I arrived in time to get this shot:

Matt Hague (pirate ship hat) and Charlie Morton sign autographs.

Going inside I headed to the batting cages to see if anyone was hitting. Along the way I ran into club President Frank Coonelly and was able to ask him about the renovations that are going to happen at McKechnie Field. Specifically I asked if they considered making the outfield dimensions match those in PNC Park. Mr. Coonelly’s answers:

My thanks to Mr. Coonelly for his time. On to the game! Recap. Box Score.

Excellent: James McDonald. James was wild on the first two pitches of the game, causing me worry that it was going to be a long day. He would immediately right the ship and pitch 5 1/3 innings before giving up his first hit. Final line: 7 IP, 2 H, 1 ER, 0 BB, and 3 K. McDonald also showed a good glove and was able to coax a walk out of Astros pitcher Kyle Weiland.

Good: Neil Walker‘s 2-run single and Garrett Jones‘ 2-run bomb accounted for all of the scoring. Walker’s hit came after Jose Tabata and Andrew McCutchen both failed to get a runner home from third with less than two out. Jones’ shot landed more than 90 feet past the right field wall.

Very Bad: Ryota Igarashi showed very little control and is looking at a steep hill to climb if he wants to make the team. The five batters he faced went walk, walk, homerun, ground out, infield hit.


Another beautiful day at McKechnie Field.

Lineups. (J.B. Shuck?)

Jose Tabata in the batting cage.

Garrett Jones followed.

A good day for autographs. Morton signed a lot on his way to the clubhouse after his appearance at PirateFest.

Rod Barajas signed after a turn in the batting cage. Someone asked him about possibly setting a new record for homeruns by a Pirates catcher.

Andrew McCutchen is good people. He signed every day that I saw him.

James McDonald does some long toss to get loose...

…and then warms up to Michael McKenry in the bullpen.
create an animated gif
Create an animated gif

Former Pirate outfielder and manager Bill Virdon watches.

Mini McGehee doesn't appear to like the mini-parrot.

When the gulls start landing on the field, you know the game will be over pretty soon.

I’ll be back tomorrow with a wrap up and final thoughts.

Pirates Spring Training Guide

Good morning from the road! I’m at the airport, headed down to Bradenton to catch a few Pirates games. If you’ll be at the ballpark Thursday, Friday or Saturday, send me a message and we can meet up.

I’ve been going to spring training for most of the last 15 years and I’ve learned a few things along the way. Hopefully they can be helpful to you if you decide to take the trip for yourself.

1. Pirate City: There’s always something going on at Pirate City unless its raining hard. Usually you can see minor leaguers doing drills from 9-11ish. They play their games around 1, but if the afternoon looks like rain they can move those earlier.
2. At the Game: McKechnie Field opens an hour before the game. Pirates BP will be over by that point but the other team will be hitting. The Pirates have a batting cage and bullpen down the RF line where you can see guys get some extra swings and that day’s starter warm up. If you are an autograph hound, this is where you want to make camp. (Its also a good area for foul balls, so keep your head up.)
3. Breakfast at Popi’s Place right outside the stadium is always fun and they have lots of 90’s era Pirate’s memorabilia on the walls. I’ve heard good things about Mixon’s Fruit Farm and will check it out this year. And if you’re feeling adventurous there’s a place called the Old Hamburg Schnitzelhaus out on Anna Maria Island which is incredible. You’ll need reservations be the beer is cold and the potato pancakes are delicious.

Saturday at Bradenton

A beautiful afternoon

Sorry for the lack of posts. I went to Florida for a little beach time and managed to squeeze in a baseball game. Hard to beat that combination, even if it was raining and drizzling for much of the game.

This was my first time at McKechnie Field for something other than a spring training game. We arrived at the scheduled 6pm start time and easily bought two general admission seats for $6 each. As luck would have it there was a rainout the night before so they were playing a doubleheader. Consequently the game had started early and

Lineups from Game 1

was already in the third inning with the Marauders down 6-0. So much for seeing Tim Alderson pitch. I was looking forward to showing off what is usually a beautiful ballpark to the wonderful girlfriend, so I was surprised to see the field was not in its usual pristine condition. The outfield appeared to have been cut too low and scorched by the sun. The box seats in right field were also sun bleached and peeling. If that is the norm then they must replace those seats every year.The guys in the nearby bullpen were watching the game, but sprang into action right after the wonderful girlfriend wondered aloud, “Why aren’t they doing anything?” Probably a coincidence.

Robbie Grossman at bat

After the quick tour we settled into seats above the home dugout. I use the term settled loosely because it wasn’t long before rain chased us to the covered seats beneath the press box. I was able to get this shot of Robbie Grossman taking a pitch before we moved. He would end up walking.

The rest of that game I was distracted by lots of kids around me and one guy in front who couldn’t figure out which part of his poncho to stick his head through.  Bradenton lost 10-5.

Next best thing to free

There was no proper 7th-inning stretch because minor league double headers are only seven innings long and they had an on-field presentation for AAU teams that were competing in a tournament at Pirate City. Special Bonus: From the end of game one until the first pitch of game two, small beers were only $1. A 75% savings for those of you scoring at home.

Despite the rain, neither game was ever delayed.

When game two started the Marauders came out in their regular home uniforms instead of the batting practice jerseys they wore for the first game. I think the look is pretty sharp, especially the yellow caps. As you can tell we had upgraded our seats to directly behind home at this point.

A few notes I made on twitter during game 2:

Calvin Anderson is friggin’ huge. (He is. Just towers over people.)

Quincy Latimore with the RBI double. Stole 3rd on the next pitch & scored when the throw went into LF. Tied 2-2 in the 3rd.

That was the first positive thing I’d seen [Latimore] do. In the first game he had a bad play on a ball up the middle & overthrew a cutoff man.

Dunedin’s got a good defensive shortstop. Seen 3 strong plays. (Looked him up later: 2009 4th round pick Ryan Goins)

Not knowing about the double header we had made plans for later on and decided to leave early. Bradenton was down 3-2 when we left and would go on to lose 4-3. Still, a night spent hanging out at the ballpark is one of the most fun things you can do.