Kovacevic: They’ll rip your heart out all summer


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Francisco Cervelli and the Reds' seventh-inning celebration Thursday in Cincinnati. - MATT SUNDAY / DKPS

CINCINNATI -- "Just wasn't my day."

It was, actually. Corey Dickerson was having a wonderful opening day. He'd snagged five screaming lasers into left field, he'd homered late to pull his team within two, and he'd put himself -- no, willed himself -- into position for maybe the most memorable plate appearance of his career.

All 12 pitches of it ...

... until the 12th of those brought the final out of the Pirates' 5-3 loss to the Reds on this summer's-almost-here Thursday thriller at Great American Ball Park. Dickerson rolled to second, Cincinnati's David Hernandez wiped his brow on the mound, and those bases were left loaded with little else left to the imagination.

Little else, but not nothing.

"So close," Erik Gonzalez would tell me through an audible sigh, slumped at his stall. "Corey battled so hard."

"It was ... something," Colin Moran told me across the room. "He's capable of so much at the plate. And just wait until he's squaring those up."

Battled so hard. Just wait.

Get used to it.

That's my principal thought, to be honest, following this 133rd opener for the Pittsburgh Baseball Club. And I swear, that's not being suggested in some sardonic or cynical way. Rather, it's rooted in a fear, as I wrote all through spring training, that these guys will sink/swim based mostly on the following:

1. They'll pitch.
2. They'll hit a little.
3. They'll defend less.

It's a recipe for exasperation. Often misdirected exasperation, I might add. Because after an outcome like this, the initial tendency -- mine, too -- will be to point to the pitching. That'll be where the deciding run happens. That'll feel more pivotal.

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