Spring training has sprung and so have the waistlines of a lot of MLB players. It seems that some professionals actually take their job seriously and show up to camp in shape while others seem not to care.
Maybe these players feel like they are better when out of shape. Maybe they are “tired of pretending [they’re] not special. [They’re] tired of pretending [they’re] not a total bitchin’ rock star from Mars.” And when you are “not from, uh…this terrestrial realm,” then it might not matter that you are the size of Two and a Half Men.
Let’s take a look around the league and see which players strolled and which ones rolled into camp.
I was electronically thumbing my way through a bunch of NY Yankees spring training pictures the other day and I thought it only right to start this column off by pointing out that CC Sabathia, who gave up Cap'n Crunch, dropped a truckload of pounds, pounds that were promptly picked up by Phil Hughes.
Did anybody else see this picture of the two of them walking together? Hughes and Sabathia are the same size. The Yankees MLB site says that Hughes weighs in at 240 lbs., a full 50 lbs. less than Cap'n Crunch(less) Sabathia, but I don’t know if I believe those stats.
One Yankee fan blogged this about Hughes…“Yeah he looks like his training regimen consists of light jogging + xbox.”
Heavier or not it seems that Hughes is off to a very strong start this spring. Against the Pirates he recently went two solid innings without letting a run cross the plate. Jim DuQuette, an MLB.com analyst, says that Hughes wanted to work on his stamina for this upcoming season so that his innings aren’t numbered. Seems to me that improving your stamina would mean losing weight.
Maybe my eyes deceive me. Maybe it's just that Sabathia has lost so much weight that Hughes looks bigger next to him. Either way, so far no ill effects from a change in weight are evident.
Staying with the NY Yankees we move from rotation starter to setup man turned starter turned setup man, Joba (the Hutt) Chamberlain. What’s going on with this kid? He is listed at 6’2”, 240 lbs. He's the same size as Phil Hughes, however Hughes has three inches on him. Chamberlain has had plenty of issues on the mound so why add to them with excessive weight gain?
Chamberlain could easily be a huge success story but he’s not helping his case by showing up to camp looking like a first-week contestant on The Biggest Loser.
As an aside, would anyone else like to see a professional athlete version of that show? Anyone? Just me?
In searching the internet for more overweight players I came across another Yankee blogger who had this to say about Bartolo Colon: “I agree that Colon should retire. When you still come into camp out of shape, you clearly aren't as motivated as you should be.”
He makes an excellent point. I’m not sure what players are thinking these days. With jobs that every kid dreams of having, one would think they would respect the game and their team enough to stay in shape. Hell, you make millions of dollars so hire an offseason trainer, especially when you’re a guy trying to make the Opening Day roster. Hell, I bet your team would even foot the bill.
Switching from the Bronx Bombers to their rival Red Sox, but sticking with the pitching theme, we come to the new Boston setup man, Bobby Jenks. Jenks is part of what could be the best 1-2-3 bullpen punch in the entire MLB.
Jenks will be followed on the rubber by Daniel Bard and Jonathan Papelbon. Bard and Pap have a combined weight of 425 lbs., only 150 lbs. heavier than big Bobby Jenks. At 275 lbs. Jenks better hope that he can put that lard behind each and every pitch or his awful season last year (ERA 4.44 allowing 28 runs to score) will be looked upon as the beginning of the end and not the fluke that Boston was hoping it was. Since 2006, Jenks' games saved stat has steadily declined each season (41, 40, 30, 29, 27).
People can make the argument that Jenks was fat when he was his most dominant and they would be correct. The problem is that with age, ability begins to slip away and being out of shape only enhances that. Fortunately, we have a gauge in CC Sabathia to see if losing weight helps fat pitchers perform better.
Miguel Cabrera is not physically out of shape but he is certainly mentally out of shape. When rich and famous people get caught up in their own head, things start to go south very quickly. Do I even need to mention Martin and Emilio’s kin?
Charlie Sheen can’t seem to admit that he has a drug and alcohol problem (not to mention a bi-polar and hooker problem) and it seems that Cabrera is suffering from a similar delusion. Ironically it’s a recent quote from the actor who portrayed Bud Fox that speaks volumes to me about Cabrera. “I’m different. I have a different constitution, I have a different brain, I have a different heart. I got tiger blood, man.” Would that be Detroit Tiger blood?
Prince Fielder is eligible for free agency in a year and he just inked a $15.5 million contract this week with the Brewers that will take him right up to his free agency. Fielder and Milwaukee were headed for an arbitration hearing that would have surely been an ugly way to begin what will most likely be his final season with the Brew Crew.
Trying not to invoke the apple not falling far from the tree idiom is difficult when speaking of Prince Fielder. He and his father Cecil both belted a ton of home runs and they both belt a ton of extra weight around their waists.
Even though Fielder is a vegetarian he is still listed on the Brewers website at 5'11", 270 pounds. That’s a lot of heft to drag around the bases especially considering that Fielder has been known to hit in-the-park home runs. Would he be hitting more of those if he were in better shape? Would some of those actually make it out of the park if he weren’t swinging that bat around so much real estate?
Standing at 6’4”, Detroit Tiger’s starting pitcher (maybe) Brad Penny tips the scales at 230 lbs. You’d think for a guy who just signed an incentive-laden one-year contract that he would have trimmed down even more and gotten in the best shape of his life.
Penny is fighting to extend his career and his workouts certainly aren't showing that he’s giving it his all. Maybe his engagement to Karina Smirnoff (Dancing with the Stars) has distracted him from the fact that he is battling for a fifth rotation spot. He needs everything he can muster and yet he’s still overweight.
I’m desperately trying to figure out what Alyssa Milano saw in this guy. If it isn’t completely evident, yes I am jealous. I am trying to emulate Penny. I’ve got the gut but haven’t yet been able to pull Samantha Micelli.
Speaking of people not in baseball, although Milano definitely receives a little sister set of letters to that fraternity, I am reminded of an out-of-shape ex-player. He, who was also out of shape when he played, graces us with his presence every year and at every spring training. We are, of course, speaking of John Kruk.
I don’t know when this was said or to whom but in response to a woman questioning Kruk about his weight he responded, “I’m not an athlete, Ma’am. I’m a professional baseball player.” That might just sum up this list of athletes(?).
Once again he has shown up to spring training sporting the Kruk gut, or muffin top if you will. It seems Kruk has chronic dunlop disease (his belly done-lops over his belt buckle). With that exhausting road schedule that Kruk’s got working, going from spring training to spring training, I get worried about the guy. Hopefully he’s keeping hydrated 'cause big boys tend to sweat a bit.
Pablo Sandoval dropped his body fat percentage from 30 percent to 19 percent and lost 38 pounds during the offseason. He used to be my favorite fat baseball player and a mainstay on this type of list. Now Sandoval is a bit smaller but he’s still out of shape. Last season he was huffing and puffing around the bases and while he may not be quite that bad this season, he still has a long way to go.
Imagine this kid’s potential if he lost all the fat and put on more muscle. Kung Fu Panda might give Phat Albert a run for his money. It almost angers me that this guy has so much potential and that if he only applied the same amount of discipline to his body that he does to his game, he would just simply crush it. But I take my hat off to Sandoval for taking the first step this offseason. Let’s hope he continues in this direction so that he can get his name off this list.
Jose Mijares, for the Minnesota Twins, wraps up this group of 10. What’s with closers and setup guys being overweight? We need a permanent bullpen camera split-screen thing going on because I think these guys are inhaling Milky Ways and candy corn while waiting for their number to be called. By the way from one fat guy to another, Milky Way candy bars are better when frozen. Seriously, give it a shot, I wouldn’t steer you wrong.
I realize that late-inning hurlers don’t need to be in great shape to throw a couple of pitches a game but come on guys, you’re professional sports players. Mijares is listed at 6'0" and 230 lbs. Now I was once 237 lbs. and at 6'0" I am painfully aware that that is just plain fat. We're talking Homer Simpson, sit at home and collect disability, fat.
It doesn’t matter if the guy was fat to begin with or not. He is still fat, still out of shape and he still scares the crap out of Twins fans when he’s called to the mound. You’d think by now he would shape up since he’s not exactly rocking the rubber. Personally, I’d try anything to improve if I were Mijares, but he and his chins seem content to all-you-can-eat their way to retirement.
I know there are plenty of athletes who reported to spring training out of shape and by no means are the 10 listed here the worst offenders. Please comment and let me know who you think abused their body (or mind) the most this offseason and if you think it will adversely affect their play and their team.
It amazes me how athletes don’t seem to understand that it’s not just their careers that are affected by their poor decisions. Those decisions also affect the careers and achievements of their teammates and ultimately their fanbase as well.
Who from your favorite team reported to camp a bit on the heavy side this year?