Taking In A Game at McKechnie Field

Today was our first day at Spring Training after arriving from Pittsburgh this morning. I’m down with 2 die-hard Pirates fans, one is a casual follower of the minors and the other is just focused on the major league team. But both are true Pirates fans, which makes the event interesting. I’m not surrounded by “prospect guys” so it’s fun to give them a taste of what is coming from the system — I usually stop when I see their eyes start to glaze over.

Normally coming from Pittsburgh in March means you are escaping 30 degree weather, but the weather in Pittsburgh right now (mid 70′s) is just as nice as here (mid 80′s). No matter…I’m not working my day job, I’m absorbing major and minor league baseball, eating great food, and playing golf. Life does not suck right now.

We had tickets to the major league game today against the Phillies. I was pleasantly surprised to hear that it was a sellout crowd of 6,000+, although there was quite a heavy contingent of Phillies fans in the stands. McKechnie is a very nice minor league park with great sight lines and a decent concourse area to congregate and get ballpark food. There’s an interesting feature where if you sit behind home plate, anywhere 40 feet to the left or righ, you’re encapsulated in mesh netting to protect you from foul balls.

The neighborhood that McKechnie sits in is, to be polite, “socio-economically challenged”. We’re staying in downtown Bradenton near the marina and you can definitely see the neighborhood erode as you get closer and closer to McKechnie. Semi-ironically, there are a plethora of body shops and auto repair places right outside the ballpark that sends foul balls flying out on to parked cars beside it.

When we sat down in our seats, I was pleased to see that Starling Marte was leading off and playing CF — two trends I hope to see in Pittsburgh by July. I turned to my one friend and explained the basics of Marte (howitzer arm, great range, wiry power) and then followed up by saying that he would not start the year in Pittsburgh because he needed Triple A seasoning.

Marte promptly took Cliff Lee deep in the bottom of the 1st, into the wind, which prompted my friend to ask “What exactly does he need to do in Triple A?”. He needs to see the major league vet that is stashed in Triple A, the old pitcher who has been around for a while and may be a junk baller at this point, so he can refine his plate discipline. But yeah…he’s making it hard on the Pirates at this point.

The three of us are going to Pirate City in the morning and then seeing the Pirates-Rays major league game at McKechnie in the afternoon. Should be another great game.

We met up with Tim Williams and Kristy Robinson after the game and the 5 of us went out to dinner at a fantastic place called Pier 22 at the Twin Dolphins Marina. The service was “eh”, but the food made up for it.

Thanks to everyone’s suggestions in the previous post. We’ll look into them for dining and I’ll try to get info on the players suggested.

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About Kevin Creagh

Kevin Creagh resides in the suburbs of Pittsburgh and has been a Pirate fan since the mid 1980′s. Kevin joined Pirates Prospects in July 2010 and enjoys writing about the economic side of baseball decisions. Many of Kevin’s articles focus on the long-term decisions that the Pirates and other organizations may need to make in the future, in order to balance escalating player salaries with built-in payroll limitations. Kevin also enjoys following prospects throughout the Pirates’ minor league system and forecasting their potential to help the major league team.
  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=714492014 Ross Insana

    marte starting in CF by July? thats kind of pushing it considering Presley may be hitting the ball BETTER than marte in spring training, Cutch was the one that was just given 52 million bucks to be the cornerstone of the franchise and I really don’t think moving him over the left for some rookie (even if it is a guy with talent like Marte) would really please him to say the least. hes clearly 5th on the depth chart on outfielders behind cutch, tabat, presley, mclouth even if marte has better talent than mclouth, nate was brought in for a reason to be the OF guy off the bench. secondly, yes he does need to go to triple A and get experience there because its a big rarity to see a guy, no matter how much the talent, make the jump from double A to the major leagues. and just to let you know, there is indeed more than just old vets in triple A ball…..if you werent aware, thats the level that prospects are at before they get called up to the big leagues. also theres guys like Hultzen, Vizcaino, Teheran, Bauer, Shelby Miller, Jacob turner, Banuelos, Skaggs, Montgomery, Martin Perez that are top flight pitching prospects who will be pitching in triple A to start the year