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The Pirates are monitoring players’ vital signs during games

Mar 19, 2014, 8:49 AM EDT

Ivan Drago

And calorie consumption and stuff like that. All via some cutting edge athletic technology. Or at least cutting edge for baseball. From Travis Sawchik of the Pittsburgh Tribune:

Prior to and during games this exhibition season, some Pirates are wearing Zephyr workload monitoring devices. Under select players’ jerseys is a tight-fitting, compression shirt, which has a black, circular, detachable electronic device — about the size of a quarter — attached near the center of the chest. The device collects data from a sensor that records players’ heartbeats and energy consumption. The device’s most noticeable features are blinking green and red lights.

Russell Martin talks about how he has used it to monitor how many calories he burns during games. It also measures heart rate. Neal Huntington speculates that there are other things it could tell the Pirates if they decide to go wider-scale with their use. For now it’s just an experiment.

I wonder if it could potentially measure telltale signs of fatigue. That could be pretty useful for pitchers, couldn’t it?

  1. baberuthslegs - Mar 19, 2014 at 8:51 AM

    Could this be the team that purchased the Cray Super Computer?

  2. bfunk1978 - Mar 19, 2014 at 8:52 AM

    I must break you

  3. jcmeyer10 - Mar 19, 2014 at 9:01 AM

    That happened to me one time. It’s called having a parole officer.

    • jcmeyer10 - Mar 19, 2014 at 9:04 AM

      Err ankle bracelet. *whispers to himself angerly about being on his game to impress the other commenters*

  4. realgone2 - Mar 19, 2014 at 9:12 AM

  5. sportsdrenched - Mar 19, 2014 at 9:19 AM

    I’d be interested to know how many calories pitchers & catchers burn, in relative to the rest of the position players. I’m surprised that this type of thing hasn’t been experimented with before.

  6. nymets4ever - Mar 19, 2014 at 9:20 AM

    the Pirates are just trying to deviate from the norm.

    • zzalapski - Mar 19, 2014 at 10:36 AM

      Being the best team in baseball is, in a sense, deviating from the norm, so your comment isn’t technically wrong.

      Of course, being the worst team in baseball is also deviating from the norm.

      • nymets4ever - Mar 19, 2014 at 10:49 AM

        It was a reference to the Rush song Vital Signs dumbass

      • sportsdrenched - Mar 19, 2014 at 12:08 PM

        That’s one of my favorite songs. However, it was not, nor is widely played on the radio. And the album in came off of is over 30 years old. It’s an obscure song that only a die hard Rush fan would know about, much less know the lyrics.

        I few of us might have come along and noticed your allusion. But to think a wide swath of the population would pick it up is pushing it a bit…So, I’m not sure why the “dumbass” was necessary. Hopefully everyone gives you a Pass.

      • zzalapski - Mar 19, 2014 at 1:59 PM

        With all the time nymetssuck4ever spends slagging his favorite team’s ace pitcher and hating on baseball people smarter than he is, I’m almost impressed he managed to come up with a disyllabic insult. Almost.

        He’s probably as much fun at parties as he is at book clubs.

  7. cur'68 - Mar 19, 2014 at 9:25 AM

    When the tri-corder is invented then you might get some useful data at a distance. As it stands, you can monitor HR, RR and get an idea of calorie consumption WITHOUT something as elaborate as these sensors. Any mass produced runners heart monitor will tell you this stuff. I’m guessing but the sensors the players are wearing might have an SaO2 sensor built in with some sort of hemoglobin pickup (the sensor for which typically need to go around a finger, so I’m kind of doubting this), so it could be of some additional value, but its still going to be pretty limited.

    What you really want to know is fatigue levels and that tends to be invasive testing: sodium/potassium balance, lactate, cortisol levels, SaO2, pCO2, lactate, blood pH, bicarb, serum glucose, etc. You need a blood gas analyzer for that and at least 0.15 mL of whole blood. Unless there’s an invasive component to these sensors the Pirates are wearing I don’t see how they get all of this information. It’d be simpler to wear a runner’s HR monitor and ASK the player “how you feeling, bubba?” Cheaper, too.

    • Francisco (FC) - Mar 19, 2014 at 10:52 AM

      Hmmm… invasive you say? Makes we wonder when we’ll start seeing special pants and jockstraps to measure things like temperature… now, now Martin, don’t pucker up dude!

    • infieldhit - Mar 19, 2014 at 12:32 PM

      Isn’t baseball supposed to be obsolete by the time the tricorder is invented? Television too.

      But the Braves will still be findin’ ways to lose…

  8. chill1184 - Mar 19, 2014 at 9:49 AM

    “I wonder if it could potentially measure telltale signs of fatigue. That could be pretty useful for pitchers, couldn’t it?”

    It will be interesting to see who comes out with a method that can pinpoint this (along with better injury prevention) when it comes to pitchers

  9. chiadam - Mar 19, 2014 at 9:50 AM

    Not a bad idea, considering some baseball players are clearly in terrible shape.

  10. 18thstreet - Mar 19, 2014 at 10:26 AM

    Bah! All I need to measure a ballplayer is to look at his heart. And his batting average with runners in scoring position. But mostly his heart.

  11. stlouis1baseball - Mar 19, 2014 at 1:45 PM

    From running boot camp training to monitoring vital signs. I love it!

  12. therooneyskilledwebster - Mar 19, 2014 at 3:23 PM

    Oops. My bad. I thought this article was about the Steelers.

  13. rdav29 - Mar 19, 2014 at 5:16 PM

    He’s not a machine. He’s a man!

  14. kiwicricket - Mar 19, 2014 at 7:54 PM

    Been doing this in Cricket for several years now. Monitoring heart rate for overall fitness and nervousness etc. Pretty interesting actually.

    I fear it will be beaten to death over and over by commentators if it’s used in games.

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