Bryan Reynolds skated past media members inside the Pirates' locker room at PNC Park Friday afternoon with a quickness.
He moved stealthily, hat low, eyes forward. But he didn't fool the pool of 30-ish media members waiting for their chance to speak. When Reynolds emerged from the hallway, everyone's ears perked up, recorders clicked on and reporters cleared their throats.
Then Reynolds just... kept walking. Right into the bathroom. No stop at his locker for a chat. Media members enjoyed a chuckle, recognizing Reynolds knew what we knew: The kid is the talk of the team. The 24-year-old rookie has a hit in each of his first nine Major League games. He's posted a smooth .414/.433/.724 with six doubles, a home run and four RBIs — and everyone's taking notice.
"I think it was probably kind of nice that [Reynolds] and [Cole Tucker] came up at the same time because this whole room gravitated toward Tucker," Clint Hurdle was telling us inside his office. "And now, it's starting to swing back a little bit the other way based on success. And I think he's probably handled it the same way he was when nobody was talking to him now that people are starting to talk to him. He's no muss, no fuss."
Hurdle nailed it there. Reynolds' calm is striking, whether in the locker room or at home plate. He told our John Perrotto in Arlington he "[doesn't] think my heartbeat is slower than anyone else’s," but I'm dubious. Even after Reynolds came back to his locker after 15 minutes — and yes, the swarm followed — he just chuckled, set his equipment down and got to business.
I had to ask him about the scene that just unfolded:
"Yeah. It's cool. *shrugs*" Yes it is, Mr. Reynolds. And if he keeps hitting and fielding like he has, it's going to get a lot cooler — both for him and for fans.
• Hurdle said Francisco Cervelli would "be available" tonight vs. the Athletics. He will, in fact, start.
• The Pirates are 4-0 in Interleague play this year and 19-5 over the past two seasons. Why? Hurdle didn't really have an answer. He praised the Pirates' scouting department and also said some players may get slightly more amped to face a "fresh face," so to speak. But he also admitted the lack of familiarity can swing the other way, too.
"It's pretty impressive to have to navigate through that Texas Rangers lineup, those left-handed bats. It's pretty impressive to see Joey Gallo hit Felipe Vazquez 468 feet and some of those other things you don't get to see very often."
• What about the Athletics? How are the Pirates feeling about this matchup in particular?
"We're looking at them, we're prepared for a club that was in the postseason last year and won over 90 games," Hurdle said.
• From Gregory Polanco to Starling Marte to Lonnie Chisenhall to Corey Dickerson, the Pirates have dealt with major injuries in the outfield to start the 2019 season. Players such as Jason Martin, Reynolds, Melky Cabrera, JB Shuck and occasionally even Pablo Reyes and Colin Moran have filled in admirably, a point not lost on Hurdle.
"We have done a good job organizationally about getting men ready to play, and the 'next man up' program is talked about down there... It's a chain reaction, and it provides an opportunity at four different levels for somebody to come up and help. And the expectations from the players are, 'You're here now. You've got a lunchpail to carry. Carry it with us.' It's been fun to watch — really fun to watch."
• Hurdle said Kevin Newman continues to get work in both the outfield and the infield at Triple-A Indianapolis and that playing outfield at the big-league level is a possibility.
"Absolutely. He wouldn't be playing it down there if it wasn't."
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