Pirates president: that stuff about the Navy SEALS training was “overblown”

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Pirates President Frank Coonelly spoke to Cory Giger yesterday about the team’s failed second half and the criticism it has received over the reports of unorthodox training (i.e. Navy SEALS-type drills) for its minor leaguers. He says it’s overblown:

Team president Frank Coonelly believes much of the criticism was “overblown” and also gave a vote of confidence to assistant general manager Kyle Stark, who has come under heavy scrutiny for his handling of the minor league system.

Coonelly says it’s not a fair criticism to say that Pirates players are fundamentally unsound because they aren’t given enough baseball training in the minors. Rather, it’s a matter of mental conditioning:

“It’s performing the fundamentals of the game in the highest pressure situation, and so we continue to work with our players throughout our system … teaching them how to perform well under pressure situations, how to control their emotions, how to be mentally and physically tough so that when they face the adversity, whether it be in the minor leagues or when they come up to Pittsburgh, they’re prepared.”

If anything that sounds like an endorsement of the military-style training. Which, people who about that sort of thing will tell you, is not about learning to carry logs and all of that. It’s about mental toughness and discipline.

The question I’d have is whether you can truly compare the mental discipline required for combat — which I’d say is considerable, to put it insanely lightly — and that required for turning double plays.  Which strikes me as more a matter of good habits and muscle memory as much as it’s about discipline.

Video: Jake Arrieta hits a 465-foot home run off of Zack Greinke

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Jake Arrieta‘s bat is in midseason form already. The Cubs’ ace swatted a solo home run to center field off of Zack Greinke in Thursday afternoon’s Grapefruit League exhibition game, his first homer of the spring.

The blast went 465 feet, according to MLB.com’s Daren Willman.

Arrieta has hit two home runs in each of the past two seasons. Madison Bumgarner (eight) and Noah Syndergaard (four) are the only other pitchers to match or exceed his output in that department.

Greinke, meanwhile, is hoping to bounce back after a miserable 2016 season. He finished with an uncharacteristic 4.37 ERA in 26 starts in his first year with the Diamondbacks.

Luis Valbuena to miss four to six weeks with a strained right hamstring

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Angels first baseman Luis Valbuena will miss the next four to six weeks with a strained right hamstring, Pedro Moura of the Los Angeles Times reports.

Valbuena, 31, signed a two-year, $15 million contract with the Angels in January and was on track to get the lion’s share of the playing time at first base. While he’s out, however, C.J. Cron will handle first base on a regular basis. When Valbeuna returns, the two will likely form a platoon.

Last year with the Astros, Valbuena hit a solid .260/.357/.459 with 13 home runs and 40 RBI in 342 plate appearances.