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UPDATE: The Pirates renounce any connection to the Pirates Fan Advisor thing

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UPDATE: There has been clarification from the team. This remains a dumb idea, but it is apparently not a team-endorsed dumb idea, the presence of team president Frank Coonelly on the website in question notwithstanding. In fact, they have asked that the video of Coonelly be removed from the site and issued a statement making it clear that they have nothing to do with this:

“The Pirates have no financial agreement or affiliation with PiratesFanAdvisor.com and receive no financial benefit in any way. The Pirates were approached by a long-time Pirates fan and Pirates Fantasy Camp goer, asking if the organization would consider feedback that he collected from the fans through his independent Web site in order to improve the experience at PNC Park.

“We agreed to consider any feedback he gathered as we are constantly seeking input from our fans. The fact we agreed to listen to whatever information is collected and agreed to shoot a brief online video communicating as much is the extent of the Pirates’ involvement inPiratesFanAdvisor.com. To avoid any confusion among our fans that we are in some way asking them to pay to provide us with their input, we have asked the video be removed from the site.

“All of the many, many channels of communication remain available to our fans. Whether it is through our online surveys, social media platforms, customer service department, guest services stations at the ballpark, season-ticket holder Q&A events, fan forums at public events such as PirateFest, e-mail, standard mail or the many other options, we actively encourage our fans to share their experiences and opinions with us.”

 

1:41: This is … odd.

The Pirates have set up something called the Fan Advisor Network. The upshot: they’re asking Pirates fans to pay the team money, ranging from $9.95 to $50 a month to become some sort of glorified focus group. From their website, where team president Frank Coonelly greets you with an awkwardly read video:

The concept is fairly simple:  Turn the most passionate and intelligent Pirate fans into consultants for the team that they love.  Never before has the objective “voice of the fan” been captured.  The Fan Advisor Network does so each and every week through its unique Fan Advisor Network Consulting System, a weekly single-question statistically valid survey.  Confidential weekly reports are generated  from this data and provided to the Pirates as well as to the Pirate Fan Advisors themselves.

In addition to being allowed to take part in the team’s weekly surveys there are what sound like message boards, lapel pins, some ticketing preferences and other swag, the niceness of which depends on what level of membership you sign up for. Bronze is $9.95 a month, Silver is $23.95 a month and Gold is $600 a year. Why they don’t just call that $50 a month is beyond me, but maybe some past focus group paid the team to tell it that $600 a year sounds better.

The core to it all, however, is that the Pirates are selling some sort of exclusive fandom to people and then want to use them as a focus group.  Which all sounds kind of weird.  I mean, maybe other teams go to their season ticket holders for feedback and things, but I’m not sure any other team does this kind of thing so explicitly.

If it were me: I’d just constantly harass the Pirates twitter feed with all of my brilliant ideas. That’s free!

(h/t to Dejan Kovacevic)

Sonny Gray was denied insurance coverage for the World Baseball Classic

MESA, AZ - FEBRUARY 22:  Pitcher Sonny Gray #54 of the Oakland Athletics poses for a portrait during photo day at HoHoKam Stadium on February 22, 2017 in Mesa, Arizona.  (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
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The San Francisco Chronicle’s Susan Slusser reports that Athletics’ right-hander Sonny Gray will not pitch in the World Baseball Classic after failing to meet the necessary criteria for insurance coverage. He missed 70 days on the disabled list with forearm tightness and a back strain in 2016.

According to Oakland GM David Forst, Major League Baseball tried to persuade the insurance carrier to waive the requirements for Gray to pitch for Team USA, but the request was ultimately refused. Without coverage, Gray will be unable to participate in the competition, though Forst adds that the 27-year-old is still in perfect health as Opening Day approaches and should benefit from a slower spring training schedule without the added commitment on his plate.

Injuries complicated a down year for Gray, who pitched to a career-worst 5.69 ERA, 3.2 BB/9 and 7.2 SO/9 rate through 117 innings in 2016. His 1.4 HR/9 and 17.8% HR/FB rates suggested that he felt the effects of the home run spike more than most, capping a disappointing follow-up to his All-Star campaign during 2015.

While Gray works up to a healthy and productive start to the 2017 season, the Athletics will still see two players on WBC rosters next month: right-handed reliever Santiago Casilla, who is scheduled to pitch for the Dominican Republic, and fellow righty John Axford, for Team Canada.

Report: Josh Hamilton likely to undergo another knee surgery

ANAHEIM, CA - JULY 24:  Josh Hamilton #32 of the Texas Rangers in the dugout before a game against the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim at Angel Stadium of Anaheim on July 24, 2015 in Anaheim, California.  (Photo by Jonathan Moore/Getty Images)
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Rangers’ outfielder Josh Hamilton is scheduled for another knee exam on Monday, according to Jeff Wilson of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. Hamilton left camp last week after feeling some pain in his left knee and received a PRP injection to alleviate the symptoms. Wilson notes that both Dr. Walt Lowe and Rangers’ assistant general manager Mike Daly noticed little improvement in the days following the injection.

More drastic measures could be necessary if the 35-year-old intends to return to the field this year. MLB.com’s TR Sullivan adds that the Rangers are considering arthroscopic surgery for Hamilton, which would set him back at least 4-6 weeks and eliminate any real chance of his making the Opening Day roster in April. Until they see the results of the surgery, however, the Rangers won’t rule out Hamilton’s potential return to the big leagues in 2017.

Hamilton is looking at his third major procedure since the end of the 2015 season. He missed all of the Rangers’ 2016 campaign after undergoing reconstructive knee surgery last spring and has not seen a full workload in the majors since his 2013 run with the Angels. Should he make a full recovery this season, he figures to see some time at first base/DH or the corner outfield.