Every offseason we keep track of the Best Shape of His Life guys, but we usually forget about them once the season starts. At best we chuckle a few months later when the player struggles and then blames it on having too much muscle or not enough body weight or something. The BSHOL cliche and the assumptions inherent in it are all basically silliness anyway so it’s not like it lends itself to intense scrutiny.
Sometimes, though, a BSOHL guy actually improves and, occasionally, that’s worth mentioning. One BSHOL guy who looks good so far this year is Aaron Sanchez of the Blue Jays. Who, in January, talked about bulking himself up and adding 25 pounds to help forestall the sort of breakdown he lad last year in the form of a lat injury which ended up shifting him to the bullpen. As one of our most senior commenters, ProudlyCanadian notes in the ATH comments, back in the rotation now, Sanchez has done pretty darn well in the early going. Over 20 innings he has allowed only three runs and has struck out 20.
Maybe that extra size and strength is doing him wonders. Maybe, like last year, it’s just the case that he’s a strong starter. I dunno. Here’s hoping that in his case, and in the other BSOHL cases, improved performance follows improved bodies and mindset.
It’s been a bad day for guys who are allegedly in The Best Shape of Their Lives. First Nick Swisher was cut by the Braves, a mere month or so after claiming to be in the BSOHL, bro. Now Seattle Mariners pitcher James Paxton has been sent down to Tacoma.
What? You don’t remember Paxton claiming to be in the Best Shape of His Life? Or some coach or his agent claiming it for him? Understandable. Because the claim wasn’t made until today. As he was being sent down. Here’s his manager, Scott Servais:
“He has not had a great spring — he will be the first to admit it. I tip my hat to him — he worked his tail off this off-season, probably got in the best shape of his life. I thought his stuff in yesterday’s game in the first inning, he was getting after it. He just wasn’t getting the results and this is a results-driven league.’’
It’s tough out there. Even for our greatest physical specimens.
Nationals catcher Wilson Ramos took some time off to get LASIK surgery since then he’s hitting well (6-for-18 in seven spring training games). And, hey Wilson, have you lost weight? Looking good, my man!
Even your manager agrees:
“Could be eyes, could be weight,” manager Dusty Baker said. “He’s in the best shape of his life. I don’t know if it’s his eyes, but I know if you can’t see, you can’t hit.”
Less than two weeks of this stuff left before the rubber hits the road and the shape a player is said to be in is rather beside the point.
David O’Brien of the Atlanta-Journal Constitution got to witness the “Nick Swisher During the First Week of Spring Training Experience” the other day. I got that privilege a couple of years ago and, as then, it was just as intense this year. Swisher, no matter what his circumstances and no matter how marginal he may now be to his team’s plans, does not have an “off” switch. He goes to 11 and is cranked there, constantly.
He also does not have an “awareness of cliche” switch, because he dropped the purest, most irony-free BSOML we’ve seen from a ballplayer in a good five years:
“This is kind of the first offseason — I think this is my 14th or 15th spring training and I think for the first time in my life I’m starting to train smart,” Swisher continued. “I know that I can’t take that grind of pounding weights each and every day. So you have to alter your workouts a little bit. I feel like I’m in the best shape of my life – on the field, off the field.”
You be you, Nick. Be careful and don’t let your joie de vivre upset your teammates like it did last year. And don’t play long enough or well enough to give the Braves thoughts of letting your 2017 option vest, because no one needs that. But have a nice year all the same.
Sometimes this stuff is just too easy. Still, we greatly appreciate Sean Doolittle cutting to the chase at Athletics’ camp in Mesa, Arizona. It’s a real help.
By the way, Doolittle also changed his Twitter name to “BestShapeOfMyLifeGuy,” so he’s living the gimmick these days.
Doolittle missed the start of last season due to a slight tear in his rotator cuff. The southpaw finally made his season debut in late May, but landed right back on the disabled list after just one appearance. After three months of rehab, Doolittle rejoined the Athletics in late August and posted a 4.26 ERA and 13/5 K/BB ratio over 12 2/3 innings. He looked much better after his first couple of appearances and his velocity wasn’t far off from where it has been in the past. The Athletics added Ryan Madson over the winter, but Doolittle should be the favorite for save chances this season if he’s healthy. And fortunately for the A’s, it sounds like he is.