BRADENTON, Fla. -- Pittsburgh general manager Neal Huntington and manager Clint Hurdle don't claim to have all the answers -- or even part of the reason injuries took such a big bite out of the 2011 season.
Nevertheless, the organization felt a change was needed and took little time to overhaul its training staff.
A few days after the end of the season, Todd Tomczyk was hired away from the Los Angeles Dodgers to replace Brad Henderson as head athletic trainer. Concurrently, former Giants strength and conditioning coach Ben Potenziano took over as his assistant, and Brendon Huttman replaced Frank Velasquez as the de facto strength and conditioning coach.
"We may still not be right, but the intent was to do it differently, with better results," said Huntington, who conceded having had a difficult time with the decision to dismiss the previous medical staff. "They were all qualified professionals, good at what they do, and did it with passion.
"We just wanted a different atmosphere, culture, environment, philosophy. We wanted a new voice, some things done in different ways."
Huntington declined to elaborate, calling it a "competitive advantage." However, the new voices were already heard during the offseason programs assigned to Pirates players.
"We were able to quickly plug people right in," Hurdle said. "We brainstormed with the medical staff on coming up with more extensive, more challenging programs, to do more than we had done in the past, just based on the experiences we had.
"We had trainers work directly with each player during the offseason, getting actual feedback, rather than just hearsay."
So, in Pirate City, those annual best-shape-of-my-life stories at least have tangible plotlines.