Clint Barmes has played in the middle infields of the Colorado Rockies, where he was managed by Clint Hurdle, and Houston Astros. In the offseason, he signed with the Pirates on a two-year, $10.5 million deal, and he'll be the Bucs' starting shortstop. On Friday at PirateFest, he spoke with a panel of writers that included Vlad from Bucs Dugout, Kevin and Matt from Pirates Prospects, Tom from RumBunter, Brian from Raise The Jolly Roger, Jon from The "Mc" Effect, and myself. Thanks to Brian Warecki from the Pirates for setting this up for us.
How much was Clint Hurdle an influence in you coming here?
He was a big part of it. Playing as I did as a Rockie, my first few years in the big leagues, and understanding his style of coaching and how good he is in the clubhouse, it made my decision a lot easier, as far as the other offers. The Pirates came after me pretty hard, and right off the bat, so it was a pretty easy decision, really.
Can you talk in a little more detail about what other offers there might have been and what process led you to come here?
The Pirates were the first offer, and there was only a couple other teams - there was a lot of teams that my agent had talked to as far as [being interested], but nobody was willing to really negotiate too heavy at that point in the offseason. So weighing all the options, they were getting to the point where they were gonna have to make a decision at shortstop by a certain time, and they had some other guys lined up. They told me that I was at the top of the line. I was the one they wanted to bring in. But if I chose to wait, they were gonna have to fill that spot. And so I had to make a decision whether I should wait to hear from some of these other teams and these other offers, or take what the Pirates were offering. So after thinking about it and discussing it with my wife and my agent, it didn't take us that long to make the decision, because it was too good to pass up, for sure.
Did the Pirates' moderate success up until July 31 - did you see that playing with the Astros and say, 'Hey, that's a team that's maybe on the rise and I can come in and help?'
Sure, especially with the direction the team is going. Clint was telling me how good of a fit I would be for this team and this organization. I agreed - I couldn't be more excited to jump in with this talent.
Your natural defensive [position] is shortstop, but because of Troy Tulowitzki, you ended up spending a lot of your time in Colorado at second base. Do you ever wonder how your career would have gone if you had come up on a team with different circumstances?
I haven't thought about it much that way at all. I'm very blessed to be where I'm at and to have the experience I have right now. I'm very thankful to the Rockies organization for all the opportunity that they have given me. I came up as a shortstop and I feel that's my primary position, and if I had to choose anywhere to play, that's where I would want to be. I enjoyed my time up the middle with Troy. I think we definitely made a good combo up the middle, and I enjoyed playing second base, but like I said, if I had a decision, I would want to play shortstop.
What's your offseason program? How do you keep yourself in shape?
My family keeps me pretty busy. No, it's one of those things where I like to take some time off right at the end of the season, let my body kind of recover for the year. I take about three to four weeks where I don't really do much of anything, and I use that as quality family time. And then I get back into the weight room, I start training, trying to get my body back in shape, and then a couple weeks after doing that, I'll start in with the baseball activities. I just try to stay on a good routine, getting in the weight room in the mornings. In the past I've gone in four days a week to start, and then it gets to five days. This year, it's been more about three days, and once baseball activities start, it'll jump to five.
It's been different for me every offseason, I'll be honest with you. The older you get, the longer you're in it. You're constantly tweaking your offseason workouts. After last year, I feel like I've learned a lot. I know what I need to do and what, maybe, I don't need to spend so much time [focusing] on. I don't look at it as a waste, but there's a lot of things I've changed in my routine.
What are some of the things you're doing now?
I'm doing a lot of core and a lot of speed drills, which is kind of good for the cardio as well. I haven't done a lot of cardio in the past, and so I'd always come into Spring Training a little heavy, and then as Spring Training goes on, I would shed that pretty quick. But I think it's better for me if I feel like I go in in a little better shape, not as heavy, as bulky, because I would lift heavy in the offseason, and I'm not lifting as heavy anymore. At my position, I don't feel like adding all that weight was really healthy, because I do lose it so quick in Spring Training. And so I'm just focused moreso on being in good shape and good cardio shape, so to speak ...
I've got a workout facility I go to in Colorado. I actually work with a trainer on the weight side of things. I'm actually working out with...
The pitching one [Javier Lopez, who was in the Pirates' bullpen in 2010] or the catching one?
The pitcher, the left-handed pitcher. He's the one that introduced me to the place, and to the trainer.
Did you take his temperature on signing with the Pirates, ask him about his experience with the team?
I did, and he had nothing but good things to say. We talked a lot about the area, where to move, and he's got a family as well. He definitely said he enjoyed his time here.
Do you feel any responsibility to be a leader [for the Pirates]? Do you see yourself as more vocal, or more lead-by-example guy?
I'm definitely a lead-by-example, but yeah. I feel like last year with the Astros, as young as we were last year, that I accepted that role, and I think there's gonna be a lot of similarities this year, with as many young guys as we have. But I'm not a vocal guy. So it's going to be more of a lead-by-example, for sure.
[As Neil Walker walks by, and Walker and Barmes exchange a glance] I see you've already struck up a rapport with your double-play partner there.
Yeah, he's been great. When I came in to sign and get physicals, Clint Hurdle took me to lunch that day, and I had a message [from Walker], and so I talked to him that first day. It's exciting, because today's the first time I really got to meet him and talk to him on a personal level, as opposed to [unintelligble].
Do you think you'll get together with Neil at all before Spring Training?
A lot of us ... I don't know how many of us or what's going on exactly, but I think we're having a minicamp in Bradenton in January.
We've heard some rumors in the offseason about [starting pitchers and former Rockies teammates of Barmes'] Jeff Francis, maybe Aaron Cook. Have you talked to either of them about possibly coming to Pittsburgh?
You know, I haven't yet. That was a rumor that I had heard as well. They're both in Colorado, so that's definitely something I'm gonna look into. I need to get together with them for sure. I already met with Jeff and his family, but that was before all the rumors kicked in about him possibly being a Pirate, so I need to get ahold of him. He hasn't signed yet, has he?
Okay, good. So yeah, those are two additions that would definitely help us for sure. They were two great teammates when I was with the Rockies with them, so yeah, I'd love that. I wouldn't mind that at all.
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