PITTSBURGH -- From the start of Spring Training, Pirates manager Clint Hurdle made it clear this camp would be different. He challenged his hitters to take their at-bats seriously, to treat March like it was April and to approach their work with regular-season intensity.
The Pirates want to avoid another slow start at the plate, so Hurdle changed not only the work itself, but the mentality behind it.
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"We asked them to change the mindset to see if that will play differently," Hurdle said.
Hurdle recently took time to chat with MLB.com about the success of that plan as well as Juan Nicasio's standout spring, the decision to place Nicasio in the starting rotation and the Bucs' chances in another highly-competitive National League Central race with the Cardinals and Cubs.
"I think it's going to be a fun division to watch," Hurdle said. "The division should be very healthy, very strong."
Adam Berry is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter at @adamdberry. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.