Pirates Chairman of the Board and principal owner Robert (Bob) Nutting is a driven man.
Driven to win, though a number of his critics would likely suggest otherwise. That group, of course, has observed the 50-year-old Nutting only from the far reaches.
Up close and personal, Nutting comes across as a sincere, caring, quality individual. At the same time, Nutting is an adept businessman who has long possessed a strategical game plan for transforming the Pirates into a championship-caliber ball club.
Twenty-one seasons of losing baseball has taken an undeniable toll on long-time Bucs' supporters. Nutting, who has stressed patience but promised eventual results, can easily relate to suffering Black & Gold fans. He remains determined as ever, though, to putting a consistent winner on the field.
"We've always said we want to be playing meaningful games in the month of September," Nutting advised during the Bucs' annual winter caravan stop last week at the Ohio Valley Mall.
"I consider 2013 critical (for us) in our overall development. We have more talent in our organization at every level." In essence, Nutting feels the time is now for definitive progress to fully surface in the team's ongoing quest for a winning formula.
"For two-thirds (of last season), we competed hard and were in the race," Nutting related. "Now, we feel it's time to take the next step and compete (for championships)."
Nutting, like a majority of Pirate fans, is excited regarding the off-season acquisition of catcher Russell Martin.
"He'll be a valuable asset for our pitchers," Nutting indicated. "Russell Martin is a proven (everyday) player. Obviously (we) didn't do an adequate job throwing out (potential) base stealers last season. With Russell, we've made a definite upgrade at the position."
Nutting also praised Pirate fans, over two million of whom passed through the turnstiles at PNC Park in 2012. "We want to compete for championships as a team but we want to do so for our great, loyal fans as well," he remarked.
FORMER Pirate and longtime broadcaster Steve Blass was part of the Bucs' winter caravan who visited the Fort Steuben Mall last week.
"(We) just need to sustain the success we had four months last season over the long haul," Blass explained. "I think we're an exciting team to watch and the fans responded. Obviously, we're looking to improve (in 2013) and see where that takes us."
Blass played alongside Bucs' Hall of Famer, the late Roberto Clemente, regarded as one of the game's most versatile athletes. "In Andrew McCutchen, you can see some similar traits Roberto possessed," Blass continued. "Before it's all said and done, Andrew will win the most valuable player award..."
MCCUTCHEN made an off-season excursion to the West Indies after receiving an invite from NIKE as part of a promotional tour. "It was a great experience," relayed McCutchen who was joined by Boston's Jacoby Ellsbury, former all-star Ken Griffey, Jr. and Orlando Hudson of the Chicago White Sox....
THE Bucs' all-star centerfielder did not express amazement Cincinnati was unable to close out the Giants after building a 2-0 lead in a five-game series. "You have to win three. Doesn't matter how you do it," McCutchen stressed. "The Giants deserved it. Then, they carried it over to the (World Series). I was really happy for guys like Freddie Sanchez and Xavier Nady. Both are good friends..."
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