Low Carbs

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.

Orioles plotting late-offseason push? Gallardo, Fowler, Alvarez, Bruce in consideration

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Baltimore’s front office appears to be lining up a run of potential roster additions leading into the beginning of spring training.

We’ve already passed along the reports suggesting they are close to a three-year deal with free agent starter Yovani Gallardo, but now FOX Sports’ Ken Rosenthal adds that free agent outfielder Dexter Fowler could be next on the Orioles’ target list. It they get those two deals done, the O’s could then chase free agent slugger Pedro Alvarez.

Rosenthal says the Orioles are even eyeing Jay Bruce of the Reds, though the FOX reporter hears the O’s might not have the prospects to pull off that kind of trade.

The focus for the Orioles out of the gate this winter was re-signing Matt Wieters and Chris Davis. Wieters accepted his one-year, $15.8 million qualifying offer in November and Davis was locked up to a seven-year, $161 million contract in mid-January.

Now the O’s are spending a little leftover cash on late-offseason additions to improve their position in what should be a tight 2016 American League East race.

Brandon Belt signs $6.2 million deal, avoiding arbitration with Giants

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In a last-second compromise before a scheduled heading today, first baseman Brandon Belt and the Giants have avoided arbitration by agreeing to a one-year, $6.2 million deal.

Belt requested $7.5 million and the Giants countered at $5.3 million, so they’ve settled slightly on the team-friendly side of the midpoint. Belt will be arbitration eligible again next season for the final time before hitting the open market as a free agent.

He’s coming off a very good season in which he hit .280 with 18 homers and an .834 OPS in 137 games and Belt has a lifetime .803 OPS through age 27, making him one of MLB’s most underrated all-around first baseman.

Orioles sign ex-Padres reliever Dale Thayer

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Right-hander Dale Thayer and the Orioles have agreed to a minor-league contract that includes an invitation to spring training.

Thayer had a rough 2015 season for the Padres, posting a 4.06 ERA and spending time in the minors, but he was a solid part of San Diego’s bullpen from 2012-2014 with a combined 3.02 ERA and 173/50 K/BB ratio in 188 innings.

At age 35 there’s no guarantee that Thayer will look good enough to claim a spot on the Opening Day roster, but he’s got a strong chance to wind up pitching middle relief for Baltimore.

Phillies acquire Taylor Featherston from Angels

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Taylor Featherston, who was designated for assignment by the Angels last week, has been traded to the Phillies for a player to be named later or cash.

Featherston stayed in the majors with the Angels for all of last season due to being a Rule 5 pick from the Rockies organization, but the 25-year-old infielder hit just .162 in 169 plate appearances.

He’s been much better in the minors, but nothing about his track record there screams quality regular and the Phillies are likely viewing him as a defense-first bench option for now.