BRADENTON, Fla. - The Pittsburgh Pirates had their best season in 20 years in 2013, and their quest to continue improving on their success is under way in Bradenton.
Pirates pitchers and catchers reported to Spring Training at Pirate City in Bradenton on Wednesday, and their first organized workouts began at noon Thursday.
ABC 7 spoke with many of their loyal fans, and some season ticket holders came all the way from Pittsburgh just to be here for their first day.
"We drove 22 hours straight." Rick Sporcic and his family consider themselves some of the most devoted Pirates fans. For 6 years, they've made their way to Bradenton for Spring Training. "I'd like to see them win the World Series this year, you know? It'd be nice."
Last season the Pirates made it to the playoffs for the first time since 1992, and loyal fans say they've been waiting for their comeback. "I've been very patient for these many years. Since the last year we finally made the playoffs, I'm hoping for an even better year this year."
The Pirates have been training in Bradenton for 45 years, winning 2 World Series along the way 1971 and 1979. Their General Manager, Neil Huntington, credits last season's success to a solid scouting and coaching staff who contribute to the development of the players. "Our players matured and we added some veteran presence from the outside that helped us make that next step. Our challenge now is to take that next step and take it a step or two or nine further."
The major talk around the Pirates camp Wednesday afternoon was the new players who are moving the team forward. "Guys like (Jameson) Taillon, guys like (Casey) Sadler, (Zack) Thornton. (Gregory) Polanco is coming in, (Alen) Hanson. Tony Sanchez is still right there involved in that mix," says head coach Clint Hurdle.
Season ticket holders are depending on the development of the new talent as well. "Just that the young guys really develop into being superstars like Andrew McCutchen."
The Buccos take the field at Pirate City for day one of practice https://t.co/ODlHT43gb7— Pittsburgh Pirates (@Pirates) February 13, 2014