Minnesota Twins starting pitcher J.R. Graham celebrates after the final out as the Twins beat the Chicago White Sox 12-2 in  a baseball game, Thursday, April 30, 2015, in Minneapolis. The Twins won 12-2. (AP Photo/Jim Mone)

J.R. Graham is in The Best Shape of his Life

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Rhett Bollinger of MLB.com reports that Twins reliever J.R. Graham has lost “roughly 30-40 pounds this offseason.” It’s not a result of workouts, though. Just a change in diet. Bollinger says that Graham cut out sugar, alcohol and foods heavy in carbs and focused on a high-protein diet with lots of salads, meats and vegetables.

That’s an awful lot of weight to lose in four months, but the dude is only 26 and guys in their 20s lose weight just by thinking about it. Which is so very annoying to those of us who aren’t guys in their 20s.

The real test, of course, will come when he is working out far more strenuously once spring training starts and gets into the season. Normal schmos like me can keep up that kind of diet without much of a hitch as long as we have the willpower. An athlete’s energy requirements are far greater and far more specialized, so he’ll need more fuel than he’s probably been getting this offseason. Word is, however, that professional sports teams have people on staff that, you know, have made monitoring that kind of thing their life’s work.

In the meantime:

“I can just feel the change,” Graham said. “The energy. Everything. I feel great. I’m excited to see how it’ll translate into spring. I know I shouldn’t have any problems because I’m stronger than I’ve ever been. I’m faster. All that. So it’s really exciting.”

It’s very exciting indeed. Because, with that, Graham becomes the latest baseball player to be . . . In The Best Shape of His Life.

James Paxton is in The Best Shape of His Life

James Paxton
Associated Press
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James Paxton gets the BSOHL treatment in this story from Ryan Divish of the Seattle Times.

Almost all ballplayers (and reporters for that matter) are aware of the cliche that is the phrase “Best Shape of His Life” by now so it rarely appears in the stories, but this one is an archetype of the genre: reports of weight loss and/or improved conditioning from a player coming off of a sub-par year + the strong implication that said weight loss and/or improved conditioning will make the upcoming season a good one. In this case Paxton talks about losing 20 pounds or so talks about how that will help him get through the season:

The big left-hander arrived at Safeco Field on Saturday for FanFest weekend noticeably slimmer and free from the injury issues that have derailed his past two seasons . . . “He looks really athletic,” Taijuan Walker said.

After weighing around 240 pounds and higher during the 2015 season, Paxton’s has shed over 20 pounds off his frame. He looks similar to his first years in the organization.

“When I came in I was right about 215-220, that’s where I’m kind of hovering at now,” he said.

There’s a strong implication throughout that the weight loss can help him be more durable and avoid injuries that he’s had in the past. Of course, last year he missed time because of a strained tendon in his left middle finger and then, later, tore a fingernail.

How weighing 20 pounds less would’ve prevented that I’m not sure as I am not a doctor.

Avisail Garcia is in The Best Shape of His Life . . . Again.

Avisail Garcia
Associated press
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Pop quiz, hot shot! You’re a well thought-of prospect who, because of where you’re from and some general physical similarities, you’re compared to future Hall of Famer Miguel Cabrera. You have some difficulty with your club and end up getting shipped to a division rival, which is something of a sign of disrespect in that your GM obviously thinks you won’t come back to haunt him.

You go to your new team and, frankly, don’t light up the world even though they’re giving you every chance to stick as an everyday player, including not going out onto a free agent market with a number of outfielders in it and, instead, saying you’re the man now, dog. Fans are somewhat uneasy about your place on the team and don’t know if they can count on you to be the player you were once projected to be.

What do you do? WHAT DO YOU DO?!

Why, you play the Best Shape of My Life card:

This support must have been a nice feeling for Garcia, who has a Twitter account and probably has come across fans’ desire to see Yoenis Cespedes or Justin Upton or Dexter Fowler in right field. If Garcia had read or felt the negative feedback, he certainly didn’t show it Thursday.

Garcia instead exhibited a quiet confidence, looking to be in excellent shape and somewhere around 20 pounds lighter than he was at the end of last season. He has a plan in place, formulated in part through individual hitting instruction with White Sox hitting coach Todd Steverson this month in Miami.

That ought to hold ’em off until mid-April and the first 11-for-47 streak. At least if people don’t remember that Garcia was touted as being in the BSOHL last year too.

Aaron Sanchez is in the Best Shape of His Life

Toronto Blue Jays relief pitcher Aaron Sanchez (41) throws against the Texas Rangers during the eighth inning in Game 4 of baseball's American League Division Series Monday, Oct. 12, 2015, in Arlington, Texas. (AP Photo/LM Otero)
Associated Press
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The Blue Jays’ Aaron Sanchez started out the season in the rotation and did pretty well over the course of 11 starts, but following a lat injury he moved to the bullpen. Now that the Jays have bulked up the bullpen, however, Sanchez is bulking up himself in order to make it back to the rotation.

Speaking with reporters at a fan event yesterday, a visibly larger Sanchez said that he has gained 25 pounds of muscle since the offseason began, thanks to workouts with Marcus Stroman. He was at 190, now he’s at 215, and the idea is for him to be stronger and have more endurance so he can stick at the back end of the Jays’ rotation. As Stroman said yesterday, “we didn’t work out twice a day for two months for him to be a reliever.” While Sanchez never claimed literal Best Shape of His Life status, the “show up at the first media event in January and talk up one’s offseason fitness regimen” is quintessential BSOHL behavior.

He’ll need more than just his strength to do it, however, as there are a lot of bodies, buff or otherwise, ahead of him. Joining Stroman on the starting pitching depth chart right now is R.A. Dickey, Marco Estrada, J.A. Happ, Jesse Chavez and Drew Hutchinson. Figure Sanchez will be in the mix with Chavez and Hutchison for the fifth spot, with the losers serving as swingmen, spot starters and, inevitably, injury replacements. Or figure on a trade during spring training.

But let no one say that Sanchez can’t make the rotation due to concerns about his durability. For that is exactly what he sought to address this winter, both in actual terms via his workout, and via his claim yesterday afternoon.

(thanks to Proudly Canadian for the heads up)

Wil Myers is in The Best Shape of His Life

Wil Myers
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Pretty big 24 hours for Wil Myers.

Yesterday he was one of the guys trotted out onto that aircraft carrier to unveil the Padres new camo uniforms. Today his team traded away Yonder Alonso which, one assumes, means that Myers will now be the Padres’ full-time first baseman. Which is something he prefers.

And, based on his conversation with Dennis Lin of the Union-Tribune, he is officially the first Best Shape of His Life All-Star of the 2015-16 offseason:

 

It’s rare that you see one of these before the Winter Meetings, but Myers is gettin’ at it.