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.

Bruce Maxwell first MLB player to kneel during National Anthem

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Athletics’ rookie catcher Bruce Maxwell did not stand for the National Anthem on Saturday night. He’s the first MLB player to do so and, like other professional athletes before him, used the moment to send a message — not just to shed light on the lack of racial equality in the United States, but to specifically protest President Donald Trump’s suggestion that NFL owners fire any of their players who elect to protest the anthem by sitting or kneeling.

“Bruce’s father is a proud military lifer. Anyone who knows Bruce or his parents is well aware that the Maxwells’ love and appreciation for our country is indisputable,” Maxwell’s agent, Matt Sosnick, relayed to the San Francisco Chronicle’s Susan Slusser on Friday. He continued:

Bruce has made it clear that he is taking a stand about what he perceives as racial injustices in this country, and his personal disappointment with President Trump’s response to a number of professional athletes’ totally peaceful, non-violent protests.

Bruce has shared with both me and his teammates that his feelings have nothing to do with a lack of patriotism or a hatred of any man, but rather everything to do with equality for men, women and children regardless of race or religion.

While Maxwell didn’t make his own statement to the media, he took to Instagram earlier in the day to express his frustration against the recent opposition to the protests, criticizing the President for endorsing “division of man and rights.”

Despite Trump’s profanity-laced directive to NFL owners on Friday, however, it’s clear the Athletics don’t share his sentiments. “The Oakland A’s pride ourselves on being inclusive,” the team said in a statement released after Maxwell’s demonstration. “We respect and support all of our players’ constitutional rights and freedom of expression.”

Whatever the fallout, kudos to Maxwell for taking a stand. He may be the first to do so in this particular arena, but he likely won’t be the last.

Alex Wilson broke his leg on a 103-MPH comebacker

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This one is brutal. Tigers’ right-handed reliever Alex Wilson was diagnosed with a broken leg after taking a blistering 103.8-MPH line drive off of his right leg during Saturday’s game against the Twins. According to the Detroit News’ Chris McCosky, it’s a non-displaced fibular fracture, but will still warrant an extended recovery period and signal the end of Wilson’s season.

Wilson replaced Drew VerHagen to start the eighth inning and worked a full count against Joe Mauer. Mauer roped an 93.3-MPH fastball back up the middle, where it struck the pitcher on his right calf. While Mauer took first base, Wilson got to his feet and tried to toss a warm-up pitch, but was in too much pain to continue and had to be helped off the field.

Even in a season that isn’t going anywhere in particular, this isn’t how you want it to end. The Tigers have yet to announce a recovery timetable for the 30-year-old reliever, but he won’t return to the mound until 2018. He exited Saturday’s outing with a 4.35 ERA, 2.3 BB/9 and 6.3 SO/9 over 60 innings.

The Tigers currently trail the Twins 10-3 in the bottom of the ninth inning.