BRADENTON, Fla. -- Pirates owner Bob Nutting traveled to Bradenton over the weekend, and, in what has become an annual occurrence each spring, addressed players and staff inside the Pirate City cafeteria before Monday's workout.
The speech was closed to the media, though Nutting relayed some of the main points of the message during a session with reporters shortly afterward.
"It's critically important that they understand, and we all understand, that 2011 is not going to be a year where small bits of incremental progress are adequate," Nutting said. "I reminded them that the goal of the organization has been, since the day I got started, to build an organization that can compete and win a championship. Until we can win a National League championship, we're not going to be satisfied with incremental progress."
This increase in expectations was Nutting's primary point of emphasis. He did not attach a specific number of wins when asked what would constitute success in the upcoming year. However, Nutting did set the bar high for a team coming off a 105-loss season.
"As an organization, I think we need to commit to winning a championship," he said. "There may be steps to get there, but until we get there, we can't say that we have achieved our goal. I don't think a number is important. What is important is that we have a clear goal at the end of the day and that we keep our eye focused on that process."
Nutting, who was attending his second day of workouts, lauded the job done by manager Clint Hurdle and his staff. He also answered in the affirmative when asked if he felt the Pirates have a better Major League club than they fielded a year ago.
One question not answered on Monday was who would be held responsible should the team not show tangible on-field improvement this season. Nutting declined to speculate on the topic, saying that he preferred to keep the attention on the here and now.
"It's not the right time to start speculating on, 'What if we fail?'" he said. "What we need to do is be focused on what the goal is, what the target is and be committed to achieve it. I think it's too early to start speculating. That's not productive. That's not the right use of energy. That's not the right place for us to focus as an organization."
Alvarez day-to-day with muscle spasm in neck
BRADENTON, Fla. -- Pirates third baseman Pedro Alvarez sat out of the team's workout on Monday due to a muscle spasm in his neck. Alvarez, whose status is listed as day-to-day, informed the staff that he woke up soreness in his neck.
Though he didn't take the field, Alvarez was at Pirate City and participated in the medical evaluations that players underwent before workouts. He also received treatment on his neck.
With Alvarez unable to work out, Garrett Atkins stepped in at third base to work with the team's other starting infielders during various defensive drills.
Nutting: Bonus, agent won't affect Draft decision
BRADENTON, Fla. -- The first pick in the 2011 First-Year Player Draft belongs to the Pirates, and team owner Bob Nutting said on Monday that perceived bonus demands and agent representation will not factor into the team's decision on who it takes with that selection.
"I am confident that [whoever] the most talented and most impactful player is -- and I think it's too early to speculate who that might be -- but whoever that right player might be, we certainly will not be in a position where we select based on dollars or signability," Nutting said. "We're going to select for the greatest impact, as we have [in recent years]."
Since Nutting took over as principal owner of the club, the Pirates have shown a commitment to investing significant financial resources into the Draft. In fact, no one has spent more in that area since 2008 than Pittsburgh, which has handed out close to $31 million to Draft picks in a three-year span.
Still, the Bucs haven't made the Draft's No. 1 selection since 2002, and the club has seen the cost the Nationals have incurred in getting the top pick to agree to terms each of the past two years. Washington gave Stephen Strasburg a four-year contract worth $15.1 million in 2009, one year before signing Bryce Harper to a five-year, $9.9 million deal.
Scott Boras advised both Strasburg and Harper, and he is now representing Anthony Rendon, who is considered by many to be the early favorite for that first overall selection in June's First-Year Player Draft.
Olsen takes step forward in recovery
BRADENTON, Fla. -- Scott Olsen, who has been sidelined with a mild left hamstring strain, appeared to take an encouraging step forward on Monday. The Pirates left-hander played long toss in the outfield and did not show any signs of discomfort during the session.
Olsen has been out since injuring the hamstring during a fielding drill on Thursday. At that time, the Pirates said they would update Olsen's status in a week, and the club appears set on offering little additional information until then.
"We're still working through Scott on a daily basis, and we'll let you know in a couple days where he is," general manager Neal Huntington said, when asked about how Olsen is progressing.
Olsen entered camp as a candidate to take the fifth spot in the Bucs' rotation. It's uncertain how this setback will affect the left-hander's ability to build up his arm before Opening Day.
Catchers battle wind, succeed in popup drill
BRADENTON, Fla. -- Don't think that Manny Sanguillen had forgotten what he witnessed last spring.
As the former Pirates backstop strolled out to the outfield grass Monday to watch the catchers take popups, he grinned. A similar session a year ago had been mostly disastrous, as 25-30 mph winds played havoc on the catchers. Most of those popups ended up on the ground.
"This is my favorite," Sanguillen said as he walked. "We get the wind in San Francisco and Chicago and you still have to go after it."
As it turned out, Sanguillen was still all smiles after the drill, which -- even with some wind -- went much more smoothly one year later. Almost every popup was caught, and technique seemed much improved. All seven catchers in big league camp participated, and Minor League manager Tom Prince, who ran the drill, seemed plenty pleased with the effort and results afterward.
"Have you ever seen seven guys this good on popups on the first day?" Prince asked.
To which Sanguillen added: "They look good."
BRADENTON, Fla. -- Former Pirates shortstop Dick Groat is one of seven players/coaches that will be inducted into the National College Baseball Hall of Fame. The induction ceremony will take place in Lubbock, Texas, on July 3. Groat played for Duke University from 1951-52. He helped lead Duke to the College World Series in '52 and was twice named an American Baseball Coaches Association All-American. ... Pitchers will resume throwing batting practice on Tuesday and Wednesday after everyone had the day off from throwing on Monday. The pitchers will throw two innings of 18 pitches apiece. Half of those pitches will be delivered out of the stretch and the other half will be thrown from the windup. ... All position players worked on relay throws and cutoffs as part of the morning's defensive drills. ... Players and coaches attended a Major League Baseball Umpires Meeting following Monday's workouts.
Jenifer Langosch is a reporter for MLB.com. Read her blog, By Gosh, It's Langosch, and follow her on Twitter @LangoschMLB. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.