What in the Hell are the Pirates doing with their instructional League players?

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Craziness coming out of Pittsburgh. Dejan Kovacevic is reporting that Pirates Instructional League players are training like Navy SEALS down in Florida. Much to their chagrin and possibly to their developmental detriment.

Kovacevic reported this last Friday, but today he has more, including an email from Pirates Assistant General Manager Kyle Stark, who is the apparent architect of this regimen. The email, sent to Pirates personnel back in June, was obtained by Kovacevic and it is … strange, with talk of “swagger,” “reckless abandon,” “turning boys into men,” creating “Hells Angels” and “pushing players beyond their comfort zones, putting them in risky situations.” It ends with him saying “HOKA HEY — It’s a good day to die!!!”

Kovacevic then details the training — three days of military style drills — which includes the following schedule:

• Wake up at 5 a.m.

• Organize room/locker

• Pushups and sit-ups

• Serpentine on the grass

• Crab walk

• Running along the beach with a telephone-type pole, carried by five or six players

• Pushing a truck tire through the outfield for 90 feet, then flipping it

• Being sprayed by a hose

• Diving into a sand pile

All with a drill sergeant barking orders throughout.

Sounds a little — no, a lot intense for baseball players. Especially given that this Stark guy has no military background and, based on what Kovacevic says, isn’t otherwise a physical training expert himself.

Jeff Passan has some followup on this, and he notes that, according to his sources, Pirates prospect Jameson Taillon once suffered a knee injury doing this stuff.  It is a training program that many in the organization despise and many around baseball are mocking.

Crazy stuff. I’d expect to hear more about this as the Pirates season comes to a thudding, dispiriting end.

Dominic Smith likely to start the season at Triple-A

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Following the Mets’ recent signing of first baseman Adrian Gonzalez, Mike Puma of the New York Post reports that fellow first baseman Dominic Smith is likely to start the season with Triple-A Las Vegas. That is contingent, of course, on the veteran Gonzalez’s ability to remain healthy, which isn’t a guarantee.

Smith, 22, struggled last season, batting .198/.262/.395 in 183 plate appearances. The Mets have also expressed concern about Smith’s conditioning. Puma reported in November that as a result of better dietary choices and a daily exercise regimen, Smith had already lost 11-12 pounds.

Gonzalez, 35, didn’t exactly have a stellar 2017 campaign. Along with battling back issues, Gonzalez hit .242/.287/.355 in 252 PA. That the Mets’ Plan A is to go with Gonzalez over Smith says something about their confidence in Smith.