BRADENTON, Fla. (AP) -- The Pittsburgh Pirates probably don't look any different to former manager Lloyd McClendon than they did when he managed them from 2001-05.
They are still relying mostly on lesser-paid, lower-profile players. Still trying to get by with a payroll that is by far the lowest in the NL Central, one that is less than half that of the Chicago Cubs' projected $115 million."It takes time and, I know people don't want to hear that, and it takes money, and you've got to have the right combination of those two," McClendon said before managing a Tigers split squad past the Pirates, 4-1 on Wednesday.Marcus Thames hit a two-run homer in the third off Ian Snell, and Tigers starter Yorman Bazardo walked three but didn't allow a hit or a run over two innings.For the Pirates, the times and the lack of dimes never seem to change.McClendon, now a Tigers coach, was back in a familiar role managing at McKechnie Field. Tigers manager Jim Leyland remained in Lakeland as the club played split-squad games, so McClendon ran the team that went to Bradenton.In the opposing dugout, he saw plenty of Pirates players he helped groom into big leaguers. The most prominent is shortstop Jack Wilson, who was promoted from Double-A to the minors upon McClendon's recommendation in 2001 and is jokingly referred to by his former manager as "my son."While the Pirates can tie the major league record of 16 consecutive losing seasons this year, McClendon won't dismiss them as a lost cause -- not with proven players such as Jason Bay, Adam LaRoche, Freddy Sanchez and Wilson.But, at some point, McClendon said an organization must spend some money, and wisely, if it wants to win. That never happened in Pittsburgh when McClendon ran the show, even after the Pirates moved into revenue-generating PNC Park in 2001.One player the Pirates may spend some dollars on is right-hander Ian Snell, who has had ongoing discussions about a long-term contract. He allowed four hits and three runs over three innings, and was hurt most by a fastball he couldn't throw by Thames in the third.Despite a strong breeze blowing toward right field, Thames' drive carried into the grove of tall trees beyond the wall in left-center."I was rushing myself a little bit; it felt like the first time out," Snell said. "It felt like I hadn't pitched in a long time. I was overanxious and couldn't settle down. It happens and that's why it's spring training."
The Pirates have lost six in a row since winning their spring opener, but manager John Russell said, "As we tell the players, they don't put spring training stats on the back of bubblegum cards." . ... Nine minor leaguers traveled for Detroit. ... Pittsburgh's 75-87 record in 2003 under McClendon is its best in the last eight years.