There’s just one week left until Opening Day for the Pittsburgh Pirates.
Spring training’s slow grind comes to a halt when games start to count in the standings with Pittsburgh’s opening series in Detroit.
But the way Pirates players approach spring training with a week to go can vary.
“It just depends on the person,” Pittsburgh first baseman Josh Bell said. “I’m sure some people that start off strong would love that the season would start tomorrow. Some people that need a little bit more work are happy that we have a week to go. It’s just person to person.”
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So how does Bell feel one week out?
He said he feels good, but not quite where he wants to be.
“I’m hoping this last week will kind of lock me in,” Bell said. “But the last two weeks of baseball, I’ve been hitting the ball the way I want to. Barreling balls up every game. So I can’t really complain there.”
Bell entered Thursday night’s game against the Toronto Blue Jays with two home runs in his last four games and hit safely in six of his last eight.
Jose Osuna, who is having another solid spring at the plate with a team-leading 13 RBIs ahead of Thursday’s game, said he’s ready and feels everyone else on the team is ready.
“We have to keep working in everything,” Osuna said. “The defense, offense to come together 100 percent.”
It’s been roughly six weeks when you include workouts and games for the Pirates’ 50th spring in Bradenton.
That might seem long, but it isn’t that way for some Pirates players.
“We’re only playing six, seven innings,” Bell said.
Added Osuna: “I feel this year is shorter than the last one. Last year felt a little bit longer.”
Meanwhile, outfielder Bryce Brentz said he’d like a few more spring training games because he’s missed the past few days dealing with a sore shoulder.
But like Bell said, Brentz agreed it depends on the individual player.
“There might be some people, who haven’t had the spring or want more at-bats so they can work on things before they start counting,” Brentz said. “Some people that killed it, they’re ready. I think each player is going to have a different perspective based on how they’re doing (and) how they’re feeling.
“I think everybody else, they’re getting to the point now that excitement is starting to build up to where it’s, ‘OK, you’re looking forward to Opening Day, but you can’t be in Opening Day and try to be here.’ You’ve just got to take each day as it is. Do your work, do your preparation and after that it’ll be here before you know it.”
Then there are players that enter camp just fine-tuning things.
Count relief pitcher George Kontos in that group.
“I try and do a pretty good job for myself of coming into camp not really searching for anything,” Kontos said. “I come into camp, hopefully, with as much arm strength as I can and that’s just what I’ve been used to doing.”
Kontos said pitching coach Ray Searage asked him at the start of camp what he needed to get ready and the answer was between eight and 10 outings. Kontos, who is on track for that many appearances, said he’s ready to go.
And with a week remaining until Opening Day, the excitement is beginning to mount.
“Everyone’s itching to get out of here and get the season started,” Kontos said. “I think that’s where we’re all at as long as everyone can stay healthy.”