While the Pirates’ curious practice of putting their Florida Instructional League prospects through Navy SEALS training exercises has been noted in this space (“The Pittsburgh Pirates – Lousy At Winning Baseball Games, But Possibly Competent At Catching The Next Bin Laden”), no one has suggested the scheme cost Pittsburgh anything greater than
baseball competency dignity. On Tuesday night, however, the Pittsburgh Tribune’s Dejan Kovacevic reported OF Gregory Polanco (.325, 16 HR’s, 80 RBI’s in 2012 for the Pirates’ South Atlantic League affiliate, West Virginia) paid the price for being under the supervision of a “development system that is the laughingstock of baseball.”
Polanco’s ankle was sprained in mid-August, and it cost him most of his final month of play. But the Pirates still saw fit to have him participate in that first day with the SEALS last month, and as you might guess, the ankle was reinjured. Worse than before.
It happened during a drill in which Polanco sprinted across the outfield, through an above-ground pool of ice water, then leaped into a sand pit.
I know this because I asked Polanco himself. Through an interpreter, he described it in vivid detail. I know this because a pitcher in his drill group independently described it the same way.
When I initially asked the team two weeks ago about Polanco, this was the emailed reply from baseball operations — no name assigned — through a team spokesman: “Polanco was NOT injured during that workout. He actually injured his ankle during the season. He opted out of those workouts, as he has continued to battle swelling but no pain.”
If you believe the players — and I do — the statement was a bald-faced lie.