Baseball is a funny game. For as long as I can remember, people have said baseball players aren't really true athletes. There is a decent argument for that. It's a station to station game. When playing defense there are positions that are set aside for the "non-athletic", the slow and somewhat lethargic. It's a game where half the league inexplicably allows for a spot in the order where a player can hit for the pitcher and doesn't have to play defense at all. With all the talk of beer, ball park hot dogs, nachos, and helmet sundaes, it can be forgotten that baseball players are athletes. Hell, some clubhouses still serve the players beer if they want it.
There was even one gluttonous buffoon that once said, "Lady, I'm not an athlete. I'm a professional baseball player." That was John Kruk, who is for some reason paid to talk about baseball. Even then, he really wasn't a bad athlete in any sense. He just really liked beer and hot dogs, but who doesn't? Just like him you think of guys that made pretty good Major League careers like David Ortiz, Matt Stairs, Adam Dunn, Kevin Youkilis and Mo Vaugh, and they weren't know for their beach bods.
Reading into baseball history, there are always the stories of alcoholism and gluttony being prevalent in the game. Babe Ruth ran off beer, brats, cigars, and man whoring. The game is vastly different than other games that are played in America and the rest of the world, but a lot of that is just mystique and myth.
In reality, baseball players are usually great athletes. They may not have the bodies you see in the NFL or NBA, but that is because it takes a vastly different skill set to play baseball at a high level. They also wear baggy uniforms. Johnny Cueto is deemed "pudgy" by most standards, but if you ask the Reds coaches he is one of the hardest workers on the team. On days he doesn't pitch, he spends a large amount of time running the stadium steps on top of his normal preparations. We've seen players trim down significantly for the game. Jay Bruce comes to mind when he lost his "baby fat" by not eating McDonald's. I'm sure there was much more to that. The saying "He's in the best shape of career" coming into Spring Training is often ridiculous, but players are usually showing up in pretty damn good shape.
Every MLB baseball player trains differently. Some really don't do much training, but keep their bodies in check through dieting. Usually, just practicing the game will help them build up the muscle groups and movements necessary to excel at the professional level, and pitchers will obviously work out differently that position players. Remember they play baseball eight to nine months out of the year. That's a lot of grind and moving around, and takes a toll on your body.
If you want some other insight to the preparation of a MLB player, look no further than Joey Votto. Like any baseball player, Votto does a lot of different lifts to prepare himself for the season. In 2011, Men's Fitness wrote an article about Votto's training. I couldn't find the actual link to the article, but I remember reading it because it was very well done. Here is a link to a good summary. Like preparation for most athletes, training for Major League ball players has turned into a science. It is a blend of diet, training, and baseball activities. In the wake of the steroid era many players have immersed themselves in advanced training to give themselves the best edge on the playing field. Many players have their own personal trainers to get them ready for the season. These are not the people hired by the team, but instead paid for on their own dime.
In the past few days, video has surfaced and been pimped about by many Reds writers. It is the daily workout of Michael Lorenzen, consensus #3 Reds propsect, and voted #9 on RR's Community Prospect rankings last year. I'm voting him #3 this year, for what it's worth. The video is below.
The video begins with Lorenzen cooking breakfast, prayer, and talking about his Christian faith. If you follow him on Twitter you know how important faith is to Lorenzen, and he is very open about it. It is a major part of his life just like baseball. It is a major theme to his video, at least as much as showing what his daily workout is.
The first thing I noticed when watching the video is Lorenzen is big, like really big. He is listed at 6'3, 195 pounds. I think that weight estimate might need to be updated. He looks like an NFL wide receiver. A lot of experts like to say that is bad for a pitcher. Being fat as a pitcher can be seen as a good thing. For example, look at CC Sabathia's career. I don't really buy into all of that. Lorenzen looks to be at the top of his game and that is a good thing. It makes sense since he was a starting center fielder in college, and scouts think could play that position at the Major League level. What makes Lorenzen a pitcher is the obvious power that is there, his wing span (I want to know those measurements), and his long lanky frame. That's why he can dial it up close to 100 MPH.
Like many athletes, Lorenzen's day basically revolves around training. His day starts on the beach working on a lot of cardio, stretching, calisthenics, and medicine ball training. His weight training still also involves a lot of cardio, band training, plyometrics, and exercises that are used to build secondary muscles and flexibility as well as explosion and power. That is one thing that separate MLB players from say a NFL player. They don't have to be able to pick someone up and throw them. They have to be quick, fast, strong, and have great muscle memory. Throwing a pitch and hitting a baseball is a very intricate act for an athlete, and the act of pitching over hand is actually an unnatural human movement. One of the greatest strengths of a MLB player is having repeatable mechanics, especially for a pitcher, and can help keep injuries away.
You'll notice that he does free weights as well. I saw power cleans, dumbbell bench, among others, but a large part of what he does was covered above. He finishes his day throwing, warming up with a football and then switching to a baseball. Always keeping his arm warm and ready, because Spring Training is closer than you think. Yeah, it's two months away.
Watching the video has only made me more excited for Lorenzen's future and what he can do in this upcoming season. He has a future #2 ceiling, and at worst an explosive arm out of the bullpen. It also helps he'll be able hit a bit from the pitcher's spot. Hopefully, you enjoyed the video as much as I did.
I feel bad about myself, now. I'm gonna go do some push ups.