Pirates GM Neal Huntington Addresses Training: An ‘Incomplete Picture’ Has Been Painted


This week, Neal Huntington went on MLB Network Radio on SiriusXM to discuss the unique minor league training programs that the Pittsburgh Pirates have conducted.  The topic has caught most of the media spotlight after the team failed miserably down the stretch once again.

We saw the story from Dejan Kovacevic, who sometimes I think is the only reporter in Pittsburgh doing actual baseball work, post a reaction to the interview on Sulia.  Here is what DK leads into the topic with:

Neal Huntington, the Pirates’ GM, did an interview with XM Radio today on a topic he has declined to discuss with local media, (emphasis is mine)

The first thing on the avoiding local media claim—get over it. If the Pittsburgh media can’t get somebody to talk to them,  why not point the thumb not the finger? The Pirates have ignored the local media on numerous occassions, something gets printed–the Pirates don’t like it, and the brass react to it.

It’s strange.  It’s not entirely professional.  It’s what they do.  It’s happened for a long time.  So. What.

Lying to media members is hideous however.  It’s pretty obvious that players were injured.  We should know that as fans.  It leads me to believe that a deeper issue is at work here, what that deeper issue is, I have not a clue.

Yet, one thing I can agree with is the sentiment that Bob Nutting put the issue to rest.  The guy who serves as the Chairman of the Board said the military style training which was led by unqualified trainers was finished.  Over.  No more ‘boot-camp environment.’  We think it’s safe to say none of these guys has ever actually been through a boot camp like many of us have, but anyway, let them have that dream.

There is a good chance that you might have missed most of this news because the Nutting response was horrendously perfectly calculated.   But anyway, the majority owner did say it was over.

So it’s curious to me that an interview was conducted on the topic.  It’s obvious that Huntington feels the training is benefical.  The GM states that they “knock them out on the field,” referring to the amount of baseball specific work that is done, but I think it’s easy to tell that Huntington believes this specific training is helpful.  He mentions that it has been scientifically proven to be successful.  It’s a good point.

Here is a small portion of the interview:


The Bucs GM said an incomplete picture has beeen painted.  He even mentions that it might be inaccurate.   Huntington talks a good game, the training is also meant to help the Pirates players off-the-field.  It’s another good point, rarely do Buccos players make missteps off the field outside of a DUI in Triple-A Indianapolis and a drug suspension in West Virginia.

But if a story is innacurate or incomplete, wouldn’t it be the responsibility of the Pirates organization to make it crystal clear then?  Erase any doubt?

If the Pirates are doing something that they believe so wholeheartedly in, and feel so passionate about, then why don’t the Bucs show us the complete picture?  Just thinking out loud here, but it seems to me that a video of the training could be made that is actually pretty interesting, we could see guys like Gregory Polanco and Alen Hanson going through some of this non-traditional training and then edit in some highlights of their breakout seasons at West Virginia.

Such a video could be a powerful tool.  It could explain why the Pirates used this supplemental method in their training.  If done correctly, it certainly could make talented young players that Rene Gayo is attempting to woo to the Pirates be even more interested, right?

But creating something has always been a struggle for the Pirates.  Doing something special like creating breakout seasons for baseball players takes a tremendous amount of work, why not capture it in some way that could once and for all silence some of the inaccuracies or incomplete pictures that Huntington states has happened in this case?

The entire mess screams a disjointed effort.  Let’s look at it:

The Pirates do things differently with a training method no other professional baseball team utilizes.

The training leads to players being injured.

The methods come under scrutiny.

The team lies about it.

The story gets more legs and goes national.

The team is called a laughingstock.

The training is supported pubilicly by players– Michael McKenry went on a radio circuit telling everyone he is a fan.  Tony Sanchez is a supporter.

and then the owner wraps up a month long investigation by saying everyone within the organization is staying but one specific training method won’t be happening anymore and kills such training methods.

The Pirates training is depicted in a manner that the GM says is incomplete.

What’s next?  I hope it’s a video showing us what thought process went into it, cite specific example from players of when they “falled back on their training,” and then wrap it up in a bow with what new methods they will be replacing the boot-camp with in the future.

If the picture isn’t finished, it’s up to the Bucs to finish it.

Let’s Go Bucs.