Jonathan Lucroy
Associated Press

Jonathan Lucroy is in The Best Shape of His Life

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Jonathan Lucroy had a controversial offseason in which he talked about how maybe it’d be best for him to be traded since the Brewers are rebuilding and losing is a drag. It’s hard to disagree with him, but it’s not the sort of thing players can ever really say without catching a lot of grief. Lucroy caught grief.

This year Lucroy is going to just catch. And, according to this story from Tom Haudricourt of the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel, he’s going to do it in . . . The Best Shape of His Life:

Lucroy, 29, who has been here since Monday, is in perhaps the best shape of his life after an off-season of rigorous workouts back home in Louisiana with brother David, a pitcher in the Brewers’ farm system. His main goal is to stay healthy and productive after a 2015 season marred by a broken big toe and concussion, with too many hitting slumps in between.

That is the extraordinarily rare straight-up, unadulterated, unfiltered and unironic BSOHL. They were common in the wild until a few years ago but have since become a highly endangered species. How fortunate we are, in 2016, to see one in the wild. In Maryvale of all places.

(h/t to Scott McLune for the heads up)

Jhonny Peralta is in The Best Shape of His Life

Jhonny Peralta
Associated Press
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Cardinals infielder Jhonny Peralta has been pretty consistent over the past few seasons, but back in his Cleveland days he used to have a pattern in which he’d show up to camp a bit chunky some years, svelte in other years and his performance at the plate would improve or decline accordingly. It was kind of annoying for Indians fans, but they got used to it, even if they wondered what things would be like if he was consistently committed.

Things got better once he got to Detroit. He wasn’t always great, but he looked the same from year to year at least, so expectations were never such that Tigers fans, like Indians fans before them, felt as if he could, if everything broke just right, be an MVP candidate. There’s something to be said for predictability I suppose.

Maybe The Cardinal Way is rubbing off on him then, because after two very nice seasons, he’s poised for . . . something big:

https://twitter.com/Frank_Cusumano/status/700701755441553408

Check back in October and we’ll see how that went.

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

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)
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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.