Nutting: Team 'refocused'; Cervelli on mend

Nutting: Team 'refocused'; Cervelli on mend

BRADENTON, Fla. -- After his annual Spring Training meeting with the Pirates' players and coaches Monday morning, owner Bob Nutting sat down for a 30-minute chat with the media and covered a broad range of topics regarding the club's vision, spending and disappointing 2016 season.

Asked about the lessons learned from last year's 83-loss campaign, Nutting pointed to collective underperformance rather than a lack of talent or support. Many of the Bucs' key players, including Andrew McCutchen and Gerrit Cole, either didn't meet their usual standard or battled injuries.

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"I think it's going to be good for us. You need to have the step back before you take the step forward. I love that phrase," Nutting said. "We certainly had a step back. We underperformed last year to the abilities of our club. I believe that's been good for the organization. I believe it's been good individually for some of the players, and it's refocused us and improved our commitment. … We need to focus on how we move forward, how we push, how we deliver a level of excellence beyond what we've done in the past."

Nutting echoed recent comments by team president Frank Coonelly and GM Neal Huntington regarding the club's commitment to winning. Organizationally, from the top down, the Bucs think the best way to win a World Series is by making it to the playoffs as often as possible, not pushing all-in and blowing up the budget for any particular season.

"We believe that by continuing to infuse talent into the organization at every level we can, every way that we can, that we can create a sustained, competitive team," Nutting said. "What you need to do is get into the playoffs, when everyone hits the reset button and goes forward.

"We need to have our sights broadly set because we will continue to have the goal of bringing a championship back to Pittsburgh. That's not just making the playoffs; it's not just winning the division. It's making it all the way."

Nutting said the Pirates, projected to carry a club-record payroll this season but still among the bottom-third in the league, will "always have the flexibility to be opportunistic" if they need to add talent later this year. They shed salary last year by trading lefty Francisco Liriano and two prospects to the Blue Jays, but that payroll was later reallocated to reliever Daniel Hudson and starter Ivan Nova.

Cervelli on the mend

Catcher Francisco Cervelli sat out of a second straight workout Monday with a sore right foot, but he expects to get back on the field on Tuesday. Cervelli left Sunday's workout early due to a "weird feeling" on the bottom of his foot.

Cervelli first felt discomfort while running. He is awaiting special insoles to provide extra protection but said the pain shouldn't be an issue going forward.

"They just gave me the day because it's early in camp, so we don't want to do anything stupid," Cervelli said. "When you catch for 15 years, a lot of things start happening. You've got to start using all the tools to make it feel better. It's nothing we have to worry about."

Around the horn

• Nutting said it's "probably not appropriate" to address whether Jung Ho Kang will be punished by the team this year. Kang is awaiting a Wednesday trial following his third DUI arrest in South Korea since 2009. He is expected to join the club whenever the legal process has played out.

• First baseman Josh Bell (knee surgery) did some defensive drills at first base with special assistant Kevin Young on Monday. Bell has been hitting off a tee and against soft toss in the batting cage.

• Cervelli, on filming a second season of the popular "That's Amore" segment aired between innings on the PNC Park scoreboard: "I was in my robe over there. Very sexy. It's good."

Adam Berry has covered the Pirates for MLB.com since 2015. Follow him on Twitter and Facebook, read his blog and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.