PITTSBURGH, PA (WBOY) – Baseball is back in Pittsburgh and for the first time in six years, Andrew McCutchen takes the field at PNC Park as friend instead of foe.
It’s a moment that both he and Pirates fans everywhere have waited for.
“I feel like this one is different for me because I’ve been away for a little bit and now I’m back and I think there’s some optimism about the team and I think people are just excited that I’m back too. You can definitely feel it. You can definitely feel the excitement,” he said.
Manager derek shelton knows the legacy surrounding opening day and the importance of veteran players to the city of Pittsburgh
“I think it’s cool, bringing guys back and having a different energy and realizing we have a lot of work to do and we’re six games in and we have to continue to get better everyday but I think it’s cool when guys that have been here embrace,” he said.
Former Pirate AJ Burnett returned to the Steel City as well to deliver the ceremonial first pitch and agreed with Shelton’s sentiment.
“Bring back the right veterans, you’ve seen it. You give examples and lead and hopefully the young guys pick up some stuff. Seems like they’re doing a good job of that but they were good before. You add the right pieces and you get better. We all know that,” he said.”
A day like this is made even more special when you feel a true connection to the city you play for with no better example than Pittsburgh’s own, David Bednar.
“Seeing the skyline, just a little extra excitement today. I’m so lucky to have this be the place I have the opportunity to play and I feel like I have to pinch myself every single day,” he said.
When it comes to the excitement of opening day, it is not just the current players who can feel the energy of the city.
Russell Martin, Burnett’s battery mate in 2013, caught his opening pitch and felt the connection once again.
“You kind of sense the buzzing, the energy. People are excited for the season and the blackout was kind of a nice addition. I wasn’t expecting that but it brings back memories. That Wild Card game in ‘13 was incredible,” he said.
The Pittsburgh Pirates opened the home slate with a 13-9 win over the Chicago White Sox.