In which Hunter Pence approves of my dietary choices

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I’ve mentioned my change in diet a few times around here. Sorry if I’m being redundant about it, but it has represented a pretty major life change for me. And being on the road for a week and a half it’s impossible not to think about it.  Road trips are always bad for me, food wise. Especially baseball trips. It’s impossible to eat well in a ballpark. That’s true even if you stay away from the concession food and stick to the media spread. You can find salads there on occasion, but it’s often hot dogs, big sandwiches, chicken parm and things like that.

I left the ballpark yesterday and went to the Whole Foods in Tempe. Their prepared foods section has a million great things. Fresh veggies, grilled meats, lentils, quinoa and the like. I got that grilled salmon, quinoa tabbouleh and asparagus/mushroom/red pepper mixup pictured to the right and ate it in the little cafe. As I left I picked up some healthy foods to take back to the hotel with me and to pack in my bag each day when I head out to the ballpark. As I type this I am doing my best to ignore the wonderful smells from the concourse here in Scottsdale Stadium and concentrate on the apple, walnuts and jerky I bought along.

Heading here this morning I remembered the post about Hunter Pence’s adherence to the paleo diet  from last week — which is not terribly different than what I’m doing — and decided that I’d ask him how it was going.

I asked him if he had a couple of minutes. He started that familiar rap players who don’t really want to be interviewed at the moment offer, asking how much time it’d take (“hey I have to get to this room or that meeting and blahblahblah…”) but when I told him it’d be quick and it was about how his diet was going, he opened up and acted like he had all day to talk.  Maybe this is just a favorite topic for him. Or maybe players are simply bored to tears with the usual spring training  clubhouse rebop.

Pence said that it was going great. That since he cut out carbs in September he has felt way more energetic, sleeps better, the whole deal.  I asked him if, as is the case with me and a lot of other people, the initial absence of sugar and carbs led to some serotonin deficit-inspired depression. He said he had heard that happened, but thankfully it didn’t happen to him.

source: Getty ImagesI asked him if an athlete’s far greater than typical energy needs makes it more difficult to avoid carbs and he said “Nope. I just pound kale and vegetables all the time. It’s in there.” I asked him if it’s hard for him to not get room service and bad food on the road and he said “Not at all. It’s just a matter of getting in a cab and making them take you to Whole Foods.”

At that point I figured I’d mention that I’m on the same sort of diet, albeit for very different reasons. I mentioned about my trip to Whole Foods yesterday and how I’d plan to do that kind of thing the whole trip, and he started to take on that look he had while giving the rah-rah pep talks during the Giants playoff run last year. “That’s great! Keep that up, man. You’ll get over the initial hump and feel much better. Just keep it up.” It was easy to giggle a bit at Pence’s motivational speaker thing last season, but in that moment, I felt ready to go out and beat the Tigers. Or the potato chips and pasta. Or something.

Anyway. No point to this, but it was one of my favorite player encounters in a long time so I figure I’d share it.

Report: Steven Matz has been pitching through pain, may need elbow surgery

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Newsday’s Marc Carig reports that Mets starter Steven Matz has been pitching through pain for most of the season. He may need surgery to fix a nerve issue in his elbow. Matz was sidelined in spring training with an elbow injury and made his regular season debut on June 10.

Matz, 26, has struggled over 13 starts, posting a 6.08 ERA with a 48/19 K/BB ratio in 66 2/3 innings. Many were scrambling for explanations for his pitching woes and now they have it.

According to Carig, the Mets let Matz skip his bullpen sessions to help him pitch through the pain. Given the Mets’ shoddy history of dealing with injuries, that’s not a good look for the club.

Carig noted on Twitter that Jacob deGrom offers some optimism for Matz’s case. deGrom underwent right elbow surgery to repair ulnar nerve damage last September and bounced back to have a great season this year.

Clayton Kershaw’s simulated game went so well he threw an extra inning

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Dodgers lefty Clayton Kershaw was scheduled to throw three innings in a simulated game on Monday. That simulated game went so well, he threw an extra inning, MLB.com’s Ken Gurnick reports. Kershaw will make a minor league rehab start next and could be activated towards the end of next week.

Kershaw, 29, has been on the disabled list since July 24 with a lower back strain. That put the pause button on another outstanding season. He’s carrying a 15-2 record with a 2.04 ERA and a 168/24 K/BB ratio in 141 1/3 innings.

The 87-35 Dodgers have run away with the NL West, needing some combination of 20 wins and 20 Rockies losses (19 for the third-place Diamondbacks) to officially clinch the division. While the Dodgers are all but mathematically assured of reaching postseason baseball, the club would still like to get Kershaw as ready as possible over the next month-plus.