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Even Under New Management, Pirates And Steelers Preserve Friendship

I wouldn’t exactly call this the feel-good story of 2020, though the year has set the bar very low, but even with a new manager and general manager, the Pittsburgh Pirates are maintaining close ties to their football counterpart. Manager Derek Shelton and GM Ben Cherington said they recently met with Mike Tomlin and Kevin Colbert, a chance to pick their brains of two men who’ve thrived in Pittsburgh.

Shelton, in a conference call, said the four spent a few hours over lunch talking about football, baseball, and life.

“We had lunch together,” Shelton said, as transcribed by The Trib’s Chris Adamski. “We walked through some of their draft process. We talked about different things. And then, honestly, as much success as he’s had here and as much respect as I’ve had for him, I talked to him about the city. I talked to him about the fans. I talked to him about Pittsburgh.”

Former Pirates’ manager Clint Hurdle had a close relationship with Tomlin and the Steelers. Tomlin and Colbert made a yearly trek to Bradenton, Florida to watch Pirates’ spring training. Circumstances this year are much different but Shelton says the conversation was valuable.

“I think any time you can kind of cross-pollinate with different leadership groups and talk about things, (it’s a positive). There are some things that don’t line up (across different sports), but there’s a lot of things that do line up.”

The sports world will watch MLB as its guide as the first major US sport to return to action (MLS was the first to return a few weeks ago). Opening Day is set for July 23rd and baseball will offer a brief guide to the feasibility of a season. Like any team with a new manager or head coach, Shelton and the Pirates have the unique challenge of navigating the COVID pandemic with the natural obstacles of leading a new team. Expectations for the Pirates are relatively low; even a 30 win season in this 60 game slate would be considered a job well done.

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