Life in the Minors- Chapter 7: Physical Fitness
For the thirteenth consecutive year, WFUV talks to the members of the Brooklyn Cyclones and the Staten Island Yankees in the Short Season Single-A Penn League about the trials and tribulations of being minor league ballplayers. The long bus rides, the low pay, 76 games in 80 days. This is a look into Life in the Minors: How the Other Half Lives.
This week, Matt Moro and Mike Pawell explain what players do off the field to stay on it.
The Brooklyn Cyclones with Matt Moro:
Playing any professional sport takes a major toll on the body. But that’s especially the case in the New York-Penn League, where the Brooklyn Cyclones are in the middle of a 76 game season in just 80 days. Among the many challenges that these minor leaguers will face this summer, getting used to playing baseball everyday is one of them. So of course, conditioning becomes a major factor in the success of these players.
Brooklyn manager Rich Donnelly spoke about this challenge before the season even started. He said that he had talked to Cyclones first baseman Matt Oberste, who had just come from the University of Oklahoma, and talked to Matt about how different minor league baseball was going to be, playing baseball every single day.
Oberste has seen consistent playing time for the Cyclones, and staying in game shape is a hurdle that he needs to climb. Oberste says that to stay ready for every game, it is important for a player to know their own body, and plan their days out accordingly so that they will have enough energy for every game.
Tomas Nido feels the same as Matt Oberste, in that he believes it is important to figure out what helps you individually to stay in game shape every day, and as a catcher, this is extremely important for Nido, playing the most taxing position on the diamond. In addition to the physical challenge that playing catcher presents, Nido feels that the mental aspect of staying physically ready for every game is just as, if not more challenging.
Off days are few and far between for the Brooklyn Cyclones, and the minor leagues are all about getting enough playing time to develop. So if these players want to play enough to impress the higher-ups in the Mets organization, they’ll need to beat the challenge of playing every single day, both physically and mentally, while figuring out how to keep their bodies ready for each game in the New York-Penn League.
The Staten Island Yankees with Mike Pawell:
Baseball is full of superstitions, strategy, and the mental back and forth that takes place every pitch between a pitcher and hitter. That being said, when it comes down to performance a lot of a players success and failure stems from whether or not their bodies are feeling good and if they are in good shape or not.
The Staten Island Yankees won’t win every game, but it won’t be because of a lack of conditioning. Especially the conditioning and work ethic of Yankees 2013 1st round draft selection Eric Jagielo, designated hitter Mike Ford, and centerfielder Brandon Thomas.
These ballplayers as well as others were good enough and displayed enough physical talent to either be drafted by or signed by the New York Yankees organization. Since joining the Staten Island Yankees and being part of a minor league ball club; however, these Baby Bombers have had to go through some changes in their routine.
Physical fitness for these players no longer means hitting the gym whenever they want, or just focusing on biceps. Now they must work with a trainer who gives them specific routines to follow and their workouts have become much more structured.
Not only have the workouts themselves changed for these players, but also when and how frequently they can work out. All the way from little league to college ball a team’s schedule can seem busy, but never have these players played so many games in such a short amount of time; playing 29 games in the 31 days of August. With this type of schedule, players and coaches are aware that although physical fitness is vital to their success, sometimes the best thing for their bodies is simply to rest.