The Pirates hire a new "Mental Conditioning Coordinator"

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We must begin by asking it:  “What is losing?” Losing is a disease. As contagious as polio. Losing is a disease.  As contagious as syphilis. Losing is a disease as contagious as bubonic plague; attacking one, but infecting all. But curable. Now, I want you to imagine you are on a ship at sea on a vast, gently rocking . . . gently rocking . . .


Bernie Holliday, who has a Ph.D. in sports
psychology and spent the last six years working at the United States
Military Academy, was hired as mental conditioning coordinator. He
replaces Geoff Miller, whose contract was not renewed.

Much, much more on Holliday and his particular assignment in this Post-Gazette article:


[Holliday] could bring to the Pirates such Army teaching techniques as
workshops, simulations, on-field exercises, videos and MP3 audios
personalized to each player, attention-control technology and
biofeedback analysis. The techniques cover a variety of mental skill
sets: from adaptation to analysis, from energy management to
establishment of a purpose, from preparation to perseverance, from
self-awareness to self-regulation.

The above “Natural” quote notwithstanding, I’m not trying to be snarky here.  I’ll grant that there’s more to this kind of job than telling people to be the ball or breathe through their eyelids or whatever. But really, do all teams have a “mental conditioning coordinator?” The article says the Red Sox and Indians do, and Pittsburgh apparently had one for the past few years.

I’d really like to know what people in the game actually think of this kind of stuff.  I guess I’m more curious about this than anything, but my gut says that ballplayers would be a bit less receptive to biofeedback analysis and energy management than your average bear.

Josh Johnson retires from baseball

PEORIA, AZ - FEBRUARY 21: Josh Johnson #55 of the San Diego Padres poses during Picture Day on February 21, 2014 at the Peoria Sports Complex in Peoria, Arizona. (Photo by Mike McGinnis/Getty Images)
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Oft-injured pitcher Josh Johnson is retiring from baseball, ESPN’s Jerry Crasnick is reporting.

Johnson, 32, hasn’t pitched in the majors since 2013. The right-hander underwent his third Tommy John surgery in September 2015 but wasn’t able to bounce back.

Johnson spent most of his career with the Marlins, but also pitched for the Blue Jays in the big leagues, as well as the Padres in the minors. He retires with a career 3.40 ERA, 915 strikeouts across 998 innings in the majors, and two All-Star nominations. Johnson led the National League with a 2.30 ERA in 2010, finishing fifth in NL Cy Young Award balloting. One wonders what he could have accomplished if he was able to stay healthy.

Report: Angels close to a multi-year deal with Luis Valbuena

HOUSTON, TX - JULY 08:  Luis Valbuena #18 of the Houston Astros hits a three run walkoff home run in the ninth inning to defeat the Oakland Athletics 10-9 at Minute Maid Park on July 8, 2016 in Houston, Texas.  (Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images)
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The Angels are nearing a multi-year deal with free agent third baseman Luis Valbuena, Jeff Fletcher of the Orange County Register reports. It’s believed to be a two-year contract with a third-year option.

Valbuena, 31, hit .260/.357/.459 with 13 home runs and 40 RBI in 342 plate appearances in 2016. He missed most of the second half with a hamstring injury, for which he underwent surgery in late August.

Valbuena has played a majority of his career at third base, but also has extensive experience at second base and has racked up innings at first base and shortstop as well. He won’t play every day for the Angels, as Yunel Escobar lays claim to third base and C.J. Cron first base, but he will give them flexibility and a left-handed bat off the bench.