* Pirates manager Clint Hurdle was impressed by the Cubs after seeing them for four games last week in Pittsburgh. The two teams play a three-game series, starting Monday at Wrigley Field.
“The people nobody talks about are [Dexter] Fowler and [Miguel] Montero,” Hurdle told reporters in Phoenix on Sunday. “You just put two solid players in the middle of the diamond, it’s always talked about as where you’ve got to have a backbone. And then you add the experience of [David] Ross to complement the left-handed catcher. You got a center fielder who can go get the ball, and a switch-hitter at the top of the order.
“You’ve added young players to your lineup who have shown the ability to produce offensively in the Minor Leagues,” Hurdle said. “You’ve got an anchor at first base [in Anthony Rizzo]. There’s not a team in baseball that probably wouldn’t like to have that guy, except for maybe [the D-Backs]. [Starlin] Castro seems to be re-energized and rekindled. The depth they’ve added to the starting rotation. … They have a better team, and they’re like everybody else now — they’ve got to go play games.”