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Pirates’ Joe Musgrove: More than just a strong arm

September 5, 2018

Pirates pitcher Joe Musgrove throws during the second inning against the Cubs Saturday, Aug. 18, 2018, at PNC Park.

Joe Musgrove brings a full complement of pitches to the mound every fifth day, but Pittsburgh Pirates manager Clint Hurdle likes a few other characteristics that go beyond the mound.

“He has really mature awareness for the game,” Hurdle said Sunday, the morning after he pitched seven mostly flawless innings in a 3-1 victory against the first-place Chicago Cubs.

That emerged in the fifth inning when he realized his best bet to get on base was a bunt - he had been sawed off in the previous at-bat - and he asked Josh Harrison the best spot on the infield to place it. He dropped down a good bunt and beat the throw from catcher Wilson Contreras, thanks to hustle and replay review.

From the dugout, Hurdle probably nodded his approval.

“There are a lot of young men coming up playing ball now, if they’re brought up on Showcase camps, can lose the game-within-the-game mentality,” he said. “He’s developed the game-within-the-game mentality, had it when he showed up here. Probably had it when he got into pro ball and has continued to enrich it, add to it.”

The closeness of the Pirates staff - guys of similar age such as Musgrove, Jameson Taillon and Trevor Williams - has been a big part of their development, Hurdle said. It’s helped bring out their competitive edge, another part of Musgrove’s mental makeup that Hurdle likes.

“Couple guys out there that’s he’s running with that have it,” he said. “There’s nobody more higher intensity than Trevor Williams, nobody. “You don’t see it as much. That’s the different makeup of the men and the different characteristics they carry.

“Taillon internalizes it a lot and it comes out every once in a while. Musgrove, it’s a visible edge. “It can be contagious. It’s along the lines of a (A.J.) Burnett or a (Russell) Martin. And it’s a healthy edge.”

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