8/17/2013 3:47 P.M. ET
Visiting D-backs appreciate Pittsburgh transformation
By Steve Gilbert / MLB.com
PITTSBURGH -- During this three-game series with the Pirates, the D-backs have had an up-close look at how excited the city of Pittsburgh is about its first-place team.
All three games of the series were expected to be sellouts.
"It's a different environment in Pittsburgh," Arizona manager Kirk Gibson said. "It's a very good environment."
Gibson remembers visiting Pittsburgh during his college days in the 1970s, when the city economy was based on steel and coal.
These days, Pittsburgh's economy has been transformed. It is now diversified, based on services, medicine, higher education and technology.
"It's a totally different city," Gibson said. "All the coal dust, it was dirty -- it's really transformed itself into a different city, and it's pretty impressive. We've been going to all these cities all around the country, and this one here, it's pretty cool how it's kind of turned around."
D-backs win big laughs with prank on Miley
PITTSBURGH -- Each Sunday when he is in town, D-backs mental skills coach Peter Crone sits with pitcher Wade Miley and the two scratch off some lottery tickets.
Earlier this year, Crone was talking with D-backs reliever J.J. Putz, and the pair discussed what it would be like if they could pull a prank on Miley by convincing him that he actually won.
"Peter and I were talking one day and decided, 'Hmmm, that might be kind of funny,'" Putz said.
Fellow reliever Will Harris picked up a fake lottery ticket from Spencer's and they mixed it in with the real ones last Sunday.
"I thought I won $10,000," Miley said.
As he jumped around high-fiving his teammates in the trainer's room, Crone brought him back down to earth.
"You know there's a lot of people in here right now for no reason," Crone told him.
It was then Miley realized he had been pranked. To make matters worse, the team sent the video to MLB Network's Intentional Talk, and it aired this past week.
"They set me up," Miley said. "The whole world knows now."
So Miley did what any normal person does when they've been pranked -- he turned it around on someone else.
Miley picked up lottery tickets on the way home that night and had his brother, Aaron, scratch them off.
"He was just as excited as I was," Miley said of his brother when he thought he won $10,000.
"It could have been better with my brother," said Miley, who could not keep a straight face for very long. "I just lost it."
Former D-back Bell's influence felt in Pittsburgh
PITTSBURGH -- After watching Pirates hitters Friday night, D-backs manager Kirk Gibson thought he saw something familiar.
"You can see their approach -- it's a Jay Bell approach," Gibson said. "He's had an influence on them over there."
Bell, who is in his first year as the Pirates hitting coach, played for the D-backs from 1998-2002, and he served as Bob Melvin's bench coach there in 2005 and '06.
When Bell left his position following the 2006 season to spend more time with his family, the team hired Gibson to replace him.
Gibson got plenty familiar with Bell, as Bell served as a special instructor for the team during Spring Training and was hitting coach for Arizona's Double-A affiliate in Mobile last year.
"Just the length guys stay on the ball," Gibson said when asked what about the Pirates' approach made him see Bell's influence. "I saw guys choking up. I know how Jay believes. I know what Jay's end goal is with it, and I just think they'll probably start to buy in on some of it."
Bell played for the Pirates for eight years, and he said it was one of only a few places he would have considered leaving the D-backs' organization for.
"This has been a great opportunity over here," Bell said. "It's back in a place that I'm extremely familiar with. The fans know who I am. I know a lot of people in the front office still from the days that I was here. This is a great opportunity to get back to the big leagues."
Steve Gilbert is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Inside the D-backs, and follow him on Twitter @SteveGilbertMLB. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.