In late September Dejan Kovacevic reported that Pirates Instructional League players are training like Navy SEALS down in Florida, much to their chagrin and possibly to their developmental detriment. At the time it was blown off by the Pirates as a short-lived little thing. Today Kovacevic has another report showing that, no, it was not short-lived.
Rather, as recently as last week, Pirates minor league coaches and instructors woke up Pirates prospects in the middle of the night shouting “it’s Hell Week!” and put them through more crazy PT and hazing such as scavenger hunts, two-mile runs and “relay races in which they ran back and forth filling garbage cans with sand.” The non-baseball drills would lead up until hours before they had to play scheduled instructional league games.
Worse: Gregory Polanco, one of the Pirates’ top prospects, aggravated an injury when he was made to sprint across the outfield “through an above-ground pool of ice water, then leaped into a sand pit.”
What in the Hell are the Pirates doing? Who is in charge and why are the team’s prospects being treated like military recruits and/or fraternity pledges? Isn’t the idea of the instructional league to instruct? As in baseball instruction?
The Astros remain in contact with the Athletics on starting pitcher Sonny Gray, Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports reports. The Astros have added Charlie Morton this offseason, but the club has been trying to add a big-name starting pitcher to put at the top of the rotation behind Dallas Keuchel.
Gray, 27, was limited to 22 starts in the 2016 season due to a forearm issue. His stats left a lot to be desired, as he finished with a 5-11 record, a 5.69 ERA, and a 94/42 K/BB ratio over 117 innings. Considering how Gray pitched in the previous three years, he’s a good bet to bounce back.
Gray is under team control through 2019, which is a big draw for the Astros. Needless to say, the Athletics would want a haul in terms of prospects. Gray will earn $3.575 million in 2017, having avoided arbitration in his first year of eligibility.
As we noted last week, The Chicago Cubs took the unusual step of not waiting until the summer after winning the World Series to make their customary White House visit to meet the president. They did it today, seeing President Obama a few short days before he leaves office.
Despite the fact that Obama is a White Sox fan, he met the Cubs with diplomacy and grace. It’s almost as if he’s been in that business for the past eight years. In return, he was given some gifts by the Cubs: Theo Epstein presented Obama with a No. 44 Cubs jersey, a tile from the center field scoreboard at Wrigley Field, and a lifetime pass to Wrigley as well.
Obama is staying in D.C. after he leaves office this week, hanging around so his daughter can finish high school in the same place she started. Even so, he’s likely going to be back to Chicago a good bit over the rest of his life, so he’ll likely be able to put the free pass to work. Assuming it comes with, like, six companion passes for his Secret Service detail.