Tomlin visits Bucs' clubhouse, offers advice

Steelers coach reminds players to keep focus on training until camp ends

Tomlin visits Bucs' clubhouse, offers advice

BRADENTON, Fla. -- Spring Training is winding down, with less than a week standing between the Pirates and Opening Day at PNC Park. It's an easy time to get complacent, to let your mind wander toward the regular season.

On Monday, the Pirates were reminded to focus on the task at hand -- and the message didn't come from Clint Hurdle or one of their other coaches.

"Be where you are," said Pittsburgh Steelers coach Mike Tomlin, making his annual visit to McKechnie Field on Monday morning. "When you get toward the end of a training session, it's human nature to pack your bags mentally and physically and sit them in the hallway. I always make a conscious effort not to do so."

Tomlin, Colbert on 2016 hopes

Tomlin and Steelers general manager Kevin Colbert stopped by Pirates camp, talked to Hurdle and his staff and then addressed the players in a closed-door meeting. These trips have become as informational as they are recreational for Tomlin.

"I enjoy the opportunity to get behind the curtain, if you will," Tomlin said. "Those are the things that I really appreciate about coming down here and watching them grow, the team-oriented things, things that I can learn from and maybe take back to my group.

"It's really exciting for us. We're in the beginning phases of formulating thoughts and ideas about what our group's going to look like. To see a group in the midst of team development is exciting for us. We always appreciate them opening their doors to us and allowing us to witness it firsthand."

Tomlin described his baseball ability as "minimal," but he said he would like to try his hand as a third-base coach.

"I'd send everybody," he joked.

Tomlin said he enjoyed catching up with reliever Jared Hughes, who's built like a tight end at 6-foot-7 and 245 pounds. And hey, the Steelers have an opening, since Heath Miller recently called it a career ...

"That conversation might be a little too real right now," Tomlin said, smiling. "We haven't been joking about it as much as we normally do."

The Stallings connection
Minor League catcher Jacob Stallings was the center of attention in the Pirates' clubhouse Monday morning. Why? His father, Kevin, was hired Sunday as the University of Pittsburgh's new head basketball coach.

Kevin, the longtime Vanderbilt University coach, had been in town watching his son play. In fact, Jacob drove his father to the airport on Sunday after catching Juan Nicasio's start at Pirate City.

Stallings' RBI double

"I know he's really excited. Pitt is a great job, great program," Jacob said. "He's excited to go to the ACC, definitely the best conference this year judging by how the NCAA Tournament's played out. To get a job as good as Pitt, we're all excited for him. He's excited, too."

Jacob, well-regarded for his defense behind the plate, may one day join his father in Pittsburgh -- but he's not ready to think about a family reunion just yet.

"I never thought he'd beat me to Pittsburgh, but he did," Jacob said. "It's fun to think about, but obviously I'm just excited for him right now. It's a great opportunity. The thought of us maybe being there together is cool to think about, but it's pretty far down the road."

Adam Berry is a reporter for Follow him on Twitter at @adamdberry. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.