The first question posed to Clint Hurdle in the immediate aftermath of his team having taken two of three games from the Los Angeles Dodgers was about a supposedly-injured pierogi.
The last question was about Russell Martin.
The response on Martin and the effect he’s had since joining the Pirates was worth the wait.
“Across the board he brings a significant edge to everything he touches,” Hurdle assessed. “He probably has impacted a pitching staff more than any other catcher I’ve ever had, every pitcher.
“He’s made every pitcher better.”
Like last season, the Pirates have probably gotten more out of their pitching staff this season than they had a right to reasonably expect given all of the moving parts that have once again been involved.
So far, at least, they’ve survived injuries in the starting rotation and changing closers in mid-stream.
And they’ve gotten surprising if not stunning mileage out of this year’s reclamation projects, Edinson Volquez and Vance Worley.
GM Neal Huntington deserves credit for that.
So do Hurdle and pitching coach Ray Searage.
But Martin might deserve more credit than anyone.
And the impact he's had has been felt far beyond what Martin has been able to accomplish with the pitchers.
“Everything he does, he talks baseball all the time with these guys, he challenges guys in the dugout, the pitchers, everything,” Hurdle continued. “There’s not anybody that he won’t challenge or have a hard conversation with, him and I, all of it.”
On the field Martin is probably the Pirates’ second-most valuable player, behind Andrew McCutchen.
Off the field Martin might have no peer in terms of what he means to his teammates and to the team.
“It’s a baseball guy that loves to compete, loves to play, hates to lose,” Hurdle said, “and shows up every day ready to crank it up again.”