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Another spring cliche: “we want to run more”

Marco Scutaro, Jason Bartlett, Paul Emmel

Boston Red Sox shortstop Marco Scutaro, center, cannot make the tag in time as Tampa Bay Rays’ Jason Bartlett (8) is safe on a stolen base at second as umpire Paul Emmel (50) watches during the sixth inning of a baseball game in St. Petersburg, Fla., Friday, Aug. 27, 2010. (AP Photo/Reinhold Matay)


“Best shape of his life” is so last month. “I’m just working on stuff, just trying to get my work in,” is old hat. The new one -- and it may not be new; I’m just noticing it now -- is “we’re gonna run some more.” The Royals are saying it. The Pirates are saying it too:

One of the stated objectives for the Pirates during spring training has been to run more.

Whether it be a straight steal, taking off after a pitch hits the dirt or not breaking stride and going from first to third on a base hit to the outfield, manager Clint Hurdle has said -- numerous times -- this edition of the Pirates will put a heavy emphasis on taking extra bases.

And of course, this is accompanied by the essential “but we’re gonna run smart,” and “we’re gonna pick our spots” talk. Which, when the team only has a few dozen stolen bases in August, will provide the out for the manager when he’s asked whatever happened to the running game.

Notice you never hear good teams talking about wanting to run more? Notice how you never hear anyone talking about how they’re “gonna hit more homers” or “we’re gonna strike out more guys”? Stolen bases, like those things, are just as much a function of talent, but for some reason no one ever scoffs at the “we’re gonna run more” comments like they would at similar comments about home runs and strikeouts.