Before becoming as successful closer in his thirties Bob Wickman was a starter and then a middle reliever for the Yankees, debuting at age 23 in 1992.
Later in his career Wickman’s gut expanded significantly, but with the Yankees he was merely chubby (or perhaps even in The Best Shape Of His Life) and general manager Brian Cashman shared a story about how the right-hander used to throw up to meet the weight clause in his contract:
He had weight clauses. My recollection would be is, say, it was on the first and 15th or every five days he had to be a certain weight on a day, in season, when he is trying to pitch out of the bullpen he’s drinking water, sitting in saunas, dieting, doing everything he can to lose weight, maybe even sticking his finger down his throat to make the weight.
Then, all of a sudden, our manager might be asking him that day to pitch the seventh inning. You are not getting the real player at that point. You are getting a worn out, drawn out [player], trying to make a $30,000 bonus or whatever it was at the time. So I believe those things are counter-productive.
Cashman relayed that story in order to explain why the Yankees no longer enforce weight clauses for guys like CC Sabathia or Michael Pineda, but I’m pretty sure the image of a young Bob Wickman throwing up in the bullpen is what most people will remember. Seriously, try not to think about that. Just try.