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Pregame: Hurdle 'humbled' to be ranked highly in player survey

Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

Hurdle 'humbled' by players' recognition

Recently, 117 major league players were asked to select the best manager across a number of categories. Questions included: "Who is the best tactician?", "Who is best at relating with players?", "Who is the best at developing young players?", and so on. Clint Hurdle ranked highly almost across the board, including second in "most creative," first in "developing young players," and second in "best leader."

Although he was not aware of the survey or the results, when told how he ranked, Hurdle said he was "humbled."

"I do try and remember and remind myself how hard this game is to play and what it was like to be a player," Hurdle said. "[I remember] who gave me the things I needed when I needed them. Who gave me what I needed when I didn't want it and needed it."

Hurdle talks a lot about "human analytics" and often reminds the press that there is a person behind the numbers and within the uniform. His desk is always stacked with books on leadership theory, which reflects his belief that managing personalities is just as important part of his job as making tactical decisions

"Truth be told, at the end of the day, you want to treat people like you wanted to be treated," Hurdle said. "I try to follow that in just about everything I do with the coaches, with the players, with Neal [Huntington], with Frank [Connelly], just about anybody I come in contact with."

Pitching depth

With the loss of Clayton Richard to the Cubs and Jameson Taillon to surgery, the starting pitching organizational depth would appear to have taken something a hit. However, Hurdle still thinks the club is in good shape.

"I still think we are in a place where we are covered," Hurdle said. "If something would happen here and we lose two starters, that might change. We lost surplus; we have great depth."

Liz getting back on track in Indy

Radhames Liz has pitched well in Indianapolis. He has struck out 17 hitters in 14 1/3 innings pitched, while posting a 0.63 ERA in five appearances and two starts.

Hurdle said that both right-hander's fastball location and the crispness on his breaking ball are where they expected them to be when the organization signed him. Hurdle also sounded bullish about Liz's prospects for returning to the big league club at some point this season.

"These starts have been more in line with what we've seen in winter ball," Hurdle said. "Overall command is very, very good. I think a lot of steps are in the right place for him to find his way back. He just needs to continue to pitch, he needs to continue to touch the ball."

Hurdle's All-Star vote

Hurdle said that he takes his All-Star vote "very seriously" because he wants to see the National League win the game.

"Todd Frazier, believe it not, I voted for Todd Frazier," Hurdle said, drawing laughter from the press when he was asked how he decides for whom to vote. "He was one of the first votes."

Frazier has hit five home runs against the Pirates this season, with a 1.265 OPS in 43 plate appearances.

"If there is a guy I don't know much about I'm going to dig up some stuff on him, because in my opinion he deserves to be checked out," Hurdle said. "[But] not all the players. There are a lot of players that aren't in consideration right off of the bat. They're eliminated right of the list. Once I whittle it down and there is a guy I don't know enough about, he deserves for me to spend the time and dig a little bit."