With each spring, hope begins anew. As the trees and flowers begin to display their foliage, even the Pirates allow themselves to dream. Even for a franchise that hadn’t seen a winning record in 16 years, the fresh air brought optimism to the Steel City.
Could this be the year that their pitching staff fulfills their promise? Could Freddy Sanchez rebound, Ryan Doumit duplicate, Nate McLouth improve, and the “brothers LaRoche” infuse some power into an anemically weak lineup?
Joe Kerrigan, the new Pirates pitching coach, was hired to mentor the Pirates’ young hurlers. And, it was working early.
Paul Malholm, the default staff ace, proclaimed "the guys have all bought in. Whenever Joe says something, he has either stats or video or experience to back it up. That goes a long way with a lot of guys. He's a different bird, but he knows his stuff.''
It seemed to be working. The spunky team got off to a great start and found itself at 11-7 after a 8-3 win against Jake Peavy. Zach Duke was starting to look like the dominant pitcher he was two years ago.
Even Ian Snell found the strike zone every now and then. The offense was also doing its part, and had scored 91 runs in 18 games. Could this finally be the year?
Then, injuries started to take their toll quickly. First, Ryan Doumit went down. Then Jack Wilson sprained his finger. Even their underrated closer, Matt Capps, started having elbow problems.
The promising start has given way to a 1-8 month of May that has seen the Pirates drop to 12-19 after losing 12 of their last 13 games.
So, we find ourselves back in reality. The following “First 30 Days” Bucco Awards go to…