How Mr. Baseball Became a Go-To for Players Headed to Japan
I often describe a day in the life of a baseball player as if it happened in reverse.
First, there’s the time the team goes into the dugout, walks out, stretches, gets into the batting cage and hits a few balls and gets ready to go out for a workout or drill. There’s a pregame meeting, a meeting during the game and postgame meeting with coaches and trainers. Then there’s a light lunch and, probably, a post-lunch workout.
It often starts with stretching and ends with a workout to maintain strength and flexibility for the upcoming season. Sometimes it doesn’t even begin with a workout. Just a quick warm-up routine.
There’s no meal served at this point, which is normal for a baseball workout in the U.S.. What’s not normal is when the coaches and trainers throw around a baseball with the players, and the players throw a few balls back while listening.
“When I was growing up and trying to play baseball, they had to be taught how to throw a baseball back. It was really a tough part of the game.”—Ryan Zimmerman, Chicago White Sox
If things go wrong, it might be because the players didn’t understand how to throw a ball back or a pitcher didn’t get a good pitch back. And that’s the time when you start to see the most action take place.
The workout routine becomes one of catching a fly ball, throwing some line drives and hitting ground balls, some line drives and some fly balls. It becomes an individual workout routine where, when times are slow, you work on how to get the ball back from the outfield, the infield is covered with a mound and you know your pitcher is ready, it’s an individual drill.
If you’re really good you can do as many drills as you want. You get to play games too.
So it’s not about hitting the ball, it’s more about getting the ball back. You know you can get the ball back to the infield and then do your thing there. That means