Few teams have had it rougher than the Pittsburgh Pirates.
Twenty-one years of losing finally came to an end last season when Pittsburgh made it to the playoffs and finished above .500 for the first time since 1992.
The Pirates would eventually lose to the St. Louis Cardinals in the National League Division Series.
Russell Martin who’s now in his 2nd year in Pittsburgh, said he’s encouraged with what he’s seen so far from his teammates.
“We got a good energy in this camp,” Martin said. “Guys came ready this year.”
Making the playoffs and losing in the first round wasn’t good enough, according to Martin, who says the Pirates are gunning for more this year.
“The Pirates have been back since last year and we’re just going to keep it that way,” Martin said. “Obviously we didn’t accomplish what we wanted to accomplish last year which was go the whole way, but we pretty much have the same pieces. We’re going to keep pushing on, putting the pedal to the medal, and hopefully make another push for October and win the whole thing.”
Heading into this season, it’s easy to see the Pirates renewed confidence, according to former Major League Baseball General Manager and current analyst Jim Duquette.
“They walk around with an awful lot of confidence,” Duquette said. “It helps when you have the MVP of the National League [Andrew McCutchen] who’s such a good player, such a good all-around player. Their pitching, even though A.J. Burnett is gone, they have enough especially when you add Gerritt Cole into the mix and [Francisco] Liriano of course having a bounce back year last year. I think overall, this is going to be a very competitive team.”
Martin also feels a difference this year.
“There’s more confidence and we’re having more fun, guys are getting their work in, and we know we have a good team this year,” Martin said. “Last year in spring training we were still in the process of figuring that out and as the year went along and as we played well throughout the whole season, we started realizing that we were a good team. This year was kind of the realization. Ok, we are good, we know it, and we’re going to have fun playing this game. We’re going to put pressure on people.”
This story was originally published here.