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.