Tigers reliever Phil Coke carries his baby on his shoulder as he celebrates after his team advanced to the World Series by defeating the New York Yankees in Game 4 of their MLB ALCS baseball playoff series in Detroit

Must-Click Link: Phil Coke the janitor, Phil Coke the chimney repairman

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Jonah Keri has a great story up about Phil Coke’s long strange trip through the minors. A trip that included weird odd jobs and no small amount of determination.

The big takeaway here, as Jonah mentions, is just how criminally underpaid most minor league players are. We hear about the big bonuses, but that’s only a handful of guys in the bush leagues. The rest make do on extremely small wages which force most of them to find odd jobs, all the while being expected to keep themselves in top physical condition and to work on their craft.

Coke notes, correctly I assume, that such hardship focuses the mind and drive and helps teams figure out who really wants it bad enough.  But it’s also worth noting that major league teams’ primary motivation here is so save some meager bucks because they can.

Corey Dickerson has lost 25 pounds

PORT CHARLOTTE, FL - FEBRUARY 25:  Corey Dickerson #10 of the Tampa Bay Rays poses for a photo during the Rays' photo day on February 25, 2016 at Charlotte Sports Park in Port Charlotte, Florida.  (Photo by Brian Blanco/Getty Images)
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Corey Dickerson of the Tampa Bay Rays wasn’t a super huge guy or anything, but he’s going to be smaller this year: he told reporters today that he’s lost 25 pounds. He attributes it to a new diet and a workout regimen and says it’ll help him with his running, swing and throwing.

Dickerson had a down year in 2016, so if losing 25 pounds is something he thinks will work for him he’s got nothing to lose. Of course the best way for him to improve his numbers is to convince the Rays to trade him back to Colorado, but that’s not likely.

James McCann is in The Best Shape of His Life

Detroit Tigers catcher James McCann blows a bubble while warming up during a spring training baseball workout, Saturday, Feb. 27, 2016, in Lakeland, Fla. (AP Photo/John Raoux)
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As I note every spring, “Best Shape of His Life” stories aren’t really about players being in The Best Shape of Their Lives. They’re about players and agents seeking to create positive stories.

We know this because the vast majority of Best Shape of His Life claims are about guys who were either injured the season before, guys who had subpar years the season before or players whose conditioning was a point of controversy the season before. These folks, or their agents + reporters who have little if nothing to write about in the offseason = BSOHL.

James McCann hurt his ankle last season and had a subpar year at the plate. So not only is he a perfect BSOHL candidate, he went old school with the claim and hit it right on the money, verbatim:

Spring training is less than a month away, folks!