NEW CASTLE —
Decker, an outfielder, was raised in Arizona and played his first Major League season in San Diego, but he looked right at home in the winter wonderland that was New Castle yesterday.
In years past being traded to Pittsburgh was not cause for celebration, but that has changed following the Pirates’ 94-win season.
“I’ve received a warm welcome and I’m happy to be with such a great organization,” said Decker, who has been a Pirate for only two weeks. Decker, 23, was traded by San Diego on Nov. 25. The former Arizona high school Player of the Year was the 42nd overall pick in the 2008 draft.
Decker’s first name “Jaff” is pronounced “Jeff” as he was named in honor of an uncle, who died during military service. Decker’s grandfather intended to name his son Jeff, but the hospital nurse recorded it “Jaff” and the spelling was passed on to his nephew.
“I’ll find out what my role is going to be in spring training,” said Decker, who can play all three outfield positions. “I’ve never been to PNC Park, but I’ve heard how great it is.”
Morris, another member of the Pirates’ dependable relief staff, said the bullpen will be ready to answer the call again next season when manager Clint Hurdle calls.
“Whether it’s three innings, two innings, one inning, or one out, it doesn’t matter,” Morris said.
Blass said the Pirates’ breakthrough season was great for the area. He is optimistic the team can build on last year’s successes, but said the Bucs must fund a way to score more runs.
As for National League MVP Andrew McCutchen, Blass believes the best is yet to come. “He can improve his defense and steal more bases, but there’s more in the tank for him.”
Hughes made a point to tell his audience that working hard and getting good grades are important.
He also focused on the Pirates’ hopes for 2014. “We got a taste of winning and now we want more.”
When the Bucs finished their presentation, Anderson thanked them for their generosity. “We teach math, English and science here, but we also teach appreciation.
“We promise to use these gifts you’ve given us every day and to stay loyal to the Pirates.”
They have no choice. They’re in the family now.