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NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- I'll have updates from Neal Huntington and more on the trade soon; currently working on tomorrow's story. For now, here is what agent Scott Boras had to say abou the Pirates' military-inspired training techniques.
"I think the health and safety of players, and I’m talking about great players because Pittsburgh drafts very high, but if you’re a parent or you’re a ballplayer, you’re going to make an analysis of what’s going on in every organization as far as what they’re doing and what they’re committed to doing to preserve and advance the interests of the player," Boras said. "When you go to practices that are untested and you go to practices that are certainly not the norm, it’s going to raise a level of concern. I think you want to be fair with every team in how you evaluate things. The benefits and detriments certainly need to be looked at. My understanding is internally, the benefits and detriments were looked at and I think they decided to do away with the K-rations."
Boras said the training did not affect the decision of first-round pick Mark Appel, who chose to return to Stanford rather than sign with the Pirates, but the Pirates had little chance of signing him anyway.
"I think that when you make decisions like that in the draft, they’re huge decisions," Boras said. "There was no communication with us. We would have been happy to give them an advance on that so that they could have used their pick in a way that they wanted to use it. Maybe they would have gone ahead with that anyway but we certainly would have let them know we didn’t have a fit there. These players have options when you have that kind of talent. That was an unfortunate event for all of us."
Update 8:53 p.m.: Huntington said Andrew Oliver was told to come to camp prepared to start, and if that didn't work out they would discuss the bullpen.
"We like the arm, we like the fastball, we like the breaking ball, we like how he does things," Huntington said. "As tough as it is to give up a young switch hitting catcher that we like a lot, we felt like Andrew was a good addition to our club."
Oliver's issues have been continually misplacing the strike zone. He walked 88 batters in 112 innings in triple-A in 2012, 80 batters in 147 innings the season before. He has a career 1.49 WHIP and 5.0 walks per nine innings in the minors.
Ramon Cabrera was a talented hitter, who hit .348 with a .410 on-base percentage at Bradenton in 2011. He hit .276 in Altoona this year.
***The Pirates have players they like availabe to them in the Rule 5 draft, Huntington said, but the fact that they pick 13th means they might not select anyone. Huntington said they needed players who could contribute, not an upside play that they could stash on the roster all season and force the Pirates to play with a 24-man roster.
***Huntington and Clint Hurdle discussed adding an assistant hitting coach, and Huntington implied that the team had already found their man and was finalizing the deal.
***Huntington echoed Hurdle's statement that the Pirates will likely take Starling Marte out of winter ball early. "We’ve got to protect him from himself a little bit and we’ve also got to make sure we protect him for us," Huntington said.
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