PITTSBURGH -- Greetings from the Steel City, where I'll spend the weekend checking in on several old friends as the Mets and Pirates meet at PNC Park -- which is about as good as it gets in the big leagues for ballparks.
Look for plenty of quips from Terry Collins and Ken Oberkfell and I'm planning chats with the likes of Justin Turner and Dillon Gee, who is starting tonight's series opener and looking to become the first rookie in franchise history to open a season 7-0. Pretty heady stuff for the guy who won 13 games in Buffalo last year and was the team's Opening Day starter this season.
As discussed in this space last night, the Mets called up Lucas Duda today from the Bisons (no, I didn't drive him down with me!). Richly deserved. Other than Jeff Manto's outbursts in 1997 and 1998, I have never seen anyone as hot as Duda has been the last two weeks in Buffalo.
I'm also looking forward to taking a look at the Pirates, who are battling to finish at .500 for the first time since 1992 (or since Sid Bream slid home). New manager Clint Hurdle has been in the World Series twice in the last four years (as manager of the '07 Rockies and hitting coach of last year's Rangers) and is definitely having an impact.
The Bisons, meanwhile, close their series with Indianapolis tonight at 7:30 (Rodney McKissic will be at the helm at Coca-Cola Field) before Columbus comes to town Saturday night.