Pirates GM Neal Huntington defends SEALs training


The Pirates have taken guff from various corners of the baseball universe — and from some of their own players — for requiring exhausting Navy SEALs-style training methods at the minor league level.

And now they’re also getting criticism from fans.

Bob Cohn, a staff writer for the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, describes the scene from Saturday afternoon’s open fan Q&A at PirateFest:

The Pirates‘ controversial Navy SEALs training program for its minor-league players escaped mention during season-ticket holders‘ questions to team management Friday at PirateFest. But then there was Saturday‘s Q&A at the David L. Lawrence Convention Center open to the so-called “general fans.”

One of them, Matthew Wein, 30, of Pittsburgh, raised the point while challenging the qualifications and expertise of assistant general manager Kyle Stark and director of player development Larry Broadway. Among his questions and comments, Wein cited “the techniques these guys are using in the minors, the militaristic garbage to train baseball players.”

Pirates general manager Neal Huntington immediately went on the defensive, responding bluntly to Wein that the organization is committed to “the best physical, best mental, best personal development we can get” and that “if borrowing from the elite of the elites is a bad thing, I‘m puzzled by that.”

“Collegiate and Olympic teams have gained valuable insight, gained valuable experience from the Navy SEALs,” continued Huntington. “We‘re not alone in our belief that these techniques work. As a matter of fact, these are the scientifically proven techniques that help young men grow, that help young men develop.”

Pirates owner Bob Nutting said last month that the training — which included late-night scavenger hunts and a “Hell Week” — would be discontinued. But it doesn’t sound like the team’s higher-ups necessarily want it to.

Report: Alex Cobb expected to sign soon

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Update (5:36 PM ET): Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic reports the Orioles are close to an agreement with Cobb. The contract is believed to be at least three years and in the range of $50 million.


Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports reports that free agent pitcher Alex Cobb is expected to sign with a team soon. He notes that the Orioles are believed to be the favorite for Cobb’s services. Cobb has kept pushing for a multi-year contract rather than settling for a one-year deal.

Cobb, 30, posted a 3.66 ERA with a 128/44 K/BB ratio in 179 1/3 innings for the Rays last season.

If Baltimore is indeed his next destination, Cobb will provide a much-needed boost to the Orioles’ starting rotation, which currently includes Kevin Gausman, Dylan Bundy, Andrew Cashner, and Chris Tillman.