Downs_Scott

Scott Downs is in The Best Shape of His Life

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New White Sox reliever Scott Downs may be getting up there in years, but Chicago has a great physical specimen to work with. Here’s Downs, talking to MLB.com:

“I’m in the best shape of my life the last couple of years, and if my arm holds up, I still feel like I can go out and compete and get outs. I still feel like I can pitch for another four or five years. I want to pitch until they take the uniform off of my back.”

Appeals to physical fitness or not, I think claiming you’re in the Best Shape of Your Life over the winter is way better for an aging pitcher than having to claim that you’re working on a new pitch or that you’re changing your arm slot or something. A BSOHL claim is much stronger. Those other ones have the whiff of desperation to them.

Starlin Castro is getting into The Best Shape Of His Life

Starlin Castro Getty
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Add another name to the list, as Carrie Muskat of MLB.com reports that Cubs shortstop Starlin Castro is getting into The Best Shape Of His Life:

The Cubs are making sure shortstop Starlin Castro reports to Spring Training in better shape. The team assigned strength and conditioning coach Tim Buss to the Dominican Republic to work with Castro for three weeks in November. In January, Castro will start workouts at the Cubs’ facility in the Dominican. …

“I think we felt like there’s no reason he can’t be a little faster and he can’t have more range than he does,” [general manager Jed] Hoyer said. “He’s at that age–he’s going to be 24 years old–where he’s going to start to put on a little bit of that man strength.”

Maybe, but I’m 30 now and still waiting for “a little bit of that man strength” to arrive.

Buster Posey is going to be in the Best Shape of His Life next season

buster posey getty
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A true sign that the Winter Meetings are snoozeville: we’re already seeing January BSOHL stories. Case in point, Buster Posey, who is lifting weights and stuff:

When the Giants training staff checked in with Buster Posey recently, the former National League MVP had a goal in mind.

“He’s trying to get a little stronger in the lower half,” trainer Dave Groeschner said Monday, the first day of the annual Winter Meetings. Near the end of a disappointing second half of last season, Posey said he would do additional strength training this offseason so that he might “feel good all year.”

Because it was never, ever a priority for him to feel good all year in the past. Like, in 2012, Posey said he wanted to feel good until, say, August, then let himself slide slowly into exhaustion. Let’s not even talk about his rookie year when his clearly stated goal was to “totally hit a wall in July,” after which he would need orthopedic shoes.

So, there we have it: “professional athlete working out to keep himself in top physical condition” news at a time when we’re supposed to be talking about trades and signings and things.

Jeff Francoeur’s eyes are in the best shape of his life

francoeur getty
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According to FOXSports.com’s Ken Rosenthal, free agent Jeff Francouer recently had LASIK surgery and has decided to go to a lighter bat in an attempt to salvage his career.

The soon-to-be 30-year-old Francoeur finished last season out of the league after being let go by the Giants in late August. On the heels of a rough 2012, he hit a combined .204/.238/.298 in 245 at-bats for the Royals and Giants.

Francoeur has long used one of the game’s biggest bats, but he’s going to try changing that up next season. According to Rosenthal, he and Baltimore’s Chris Davis were the only players in the league to use 35-ounce bats last season. A lighter bat might allow him to start his swing a bit later, giving him more time to realize that he might not want to flail at the 59-foot curveballs and heaters above his head.

Francoeur has hit .263/.306/.419 with 140 homers in nine big-league seasons. He’s probably going to have to accept a minor league contract with a chance to compete for a bench job next spring.

Matt Harrison is in The Best Shape Of His Life

Kansas City Royals v Texas Rangers
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We’re still three months from spring training, but after missing nearly all of this year following multiple back surgeries Rangers left-hander Matt Harrison is getting a head start on the annual Best Shape Of His Life rush:

Via Richard Durrett of ESPN Dallas:

Harrison said he’s down to 240 pounds, a weight that he’d like to stay at for spring training. Thanks mainly to medication, Harrison said he ballooned up to 270 pounds at one point. He said his playing weight is normally around 250, but doesn’t want to pitch at that weight anymore.  “It would help with everything to take a little stress off the back and make it easier to run,” Harrison said.

6-foot-4 and 240 pounds is still a big boy, but hopefully this helps Harrison stay healthy and resume being one of the league’s best lefties in 2014.