Therefore, McClendon was happy with how the 2005 exhibition season turned out. The Pirates went 14-14 with two ties.
"This has been our best spring training, all in all," McClendon said. "I like the way our pitching shapes up. I think we're going to score more runs than people might think.
"My biggest concern is if we're going to catch the ball. If we play good defense, I think we'll be fine. This is the best I've ever felt coming out of spring training.
"We had a productive time in Florida, and I'm really looking forward to the start of the season. I'm excited. I think everyone is excited."
1B Craig Wilson had a particularly productive spring as he hit eight home runs, the most by a Pirates player since the club began keeping exhibition records in 1986. Mark Johnson hit seven homers in 1997, and Aramis Ramirez matched that total in 2003.
INF/OF Rob Mackowiak failed to wrest the starting center fielder's job away from Tike Redman but wound up hitting a club-high .352 with three steals. Third baseman Ty Wigginton led the team in RBIs with 18 and appears poised for a breakout season.
2B Jose Castillo, looking to build on a solid rookie season in 2004, batted .329 with three homers and 11 RBIs, while 40-year-old C Benito Santiago hit .311 after being acquired from Kansas City in an offseason trade.
PRIMED FOR A BIG SEASON: 3B Ty Wigginton hit only .220 with five homers and 24 RBIs in 58 games last season after being acquired from the New York Mets in a July 30 trade. Wigginton appears more relaxed this year and lost 15 pounds over the winter. His bat is quicker and he is moving better in the field.
ON THE DECLINE: LHP Mark Redman was acquired from Oakland last November in a trade for C Jason Kendall and came to the Pirates with the reputation of not dealing well with adversity. That became the case this spring as he had a 7.04 ERA in 23 innings and he became unglued when plays in the field weren't made behind him. The Athletics wanted rid of Redman for a reason, and the Pirates are quickly finding out why.