Winning in Altoona Important to Development of Pirates Organization

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ALTOONA, Pa. (EYT) – In some minor-league organizations, winning takes a back seat to player development.

That isn’t the case with the Pittsburgh Pirates, at least not as far as the Altoona Curve are concerned.

“I don’t think it’s a balance,” Curve first-year manager Joey Cora, a former major-league player and coach said when asked how he would balance development with winning. “You try to win every game. That’s the way they are going to learn how to win games. You try to win every game. That’s my goal. I’m here to win. I’m here to compete and win every game. Obviously, you have some parameters you have to go through, but I’m here to win. I don’t want to get my brains beat out there, no way.”

View Cora’s thoughts here.

According to Curve outfielder Barrett Barnes, the No. 20 Pirates prospect according to MLBPipeline.com, winning is very important in player development.

“Winning is first and foremost for us,” Barnes said. “If you win, it means you are doing things right. And if you are doing things right, you are being successful and you’re learning and growing. It’s hard to grow if you’re losing. My first year, in State College, we weren’t very good. We lost a lot of ball games. And I didn’t feel like I grew very much. Last year, at AA, you get in the habit of winning and habit of watching other people be successful. It makes you want to get better. And you look down the road at PNC (Park) and those guys are going to the playoffs, and it makes you want to get better, and Indy is going to the postseason. It’s a culture. Everyone around you is being positive and working and growing and getting better, and you aren’t going to be that one guy that doesn’t.”

With that philosophy in mind, Cora said he envisions managing the game as the game dictates.

“We’re going to play the game the way it should be played,” Cora said. “Whether that calls for a bunt in certain situations, sure we are going to do that. We are going to run. We are going to go for the long ball. It changes game-to-game. At least the way I manage, I’m not going to say I’m a running manager or a bunting manager or whatever. Game-to-game it changes. It depends on the situations. You take it for what it is, the situation, and manage accordingly.”

Barnes said the work-ethic that comes with winning rubs off on the entire club.

“That’s how you walk into Altoona’s clubhouse and there are nine guys doing early work,” Barnes said. “It’s because you go out there and do early work and those people are successful. And so the next person jumps on and the next person jump on and it’s one after another and before you know it, you have a lockerroom full of prospects that work together and bring what they have to the table. And you have a very, very special opportunity as a group of young men.”

It’s an opportunity Cora hopes to guide with his experience as a big-league player and coach.

“I’ve been to the big leagues, Cora said. “Now it’s about them. Hopefully, I can help them reach their goals too. Not only with the players but with the coaching staff. Hopefully, the help with the game, and I help them reach their goals.”


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