The food that fuels ballplayers

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Good story from Alyson Footer of MLB.com about the evolution of food in the clubhouse. Even a generation ago — when Kirk Gibson and Don Mattingly played — it was all about cold cuts and candy. Davey Johnson goes back farther and talks of “cheese, crackers and beer.”

Now, totally different, obviously, and Footer talks to ballplayers and team nutritionist types who make sure that major leaguers have healthy options to help them reach maximum athletic performance. The Nationals even have a dedicated personal chef who talks about the need for athletes to eliminate processed foods and take control over their diet. He says:

“Sports culinary is one of the last untapped markets,” he said. “Teams are now starting to really look at food as everything. You want the best performance and the least amount of injuries, and if you eat garbage, your body is inflamed the whole time. From that inflammation, you get injured. You definitely want to treat them right and give them the best.”

Every time I hear this stuff I first nod my head, because it’s absolutely right.  Then I wonder why minor leaguers are still expected to live on pizza and fast food and are given neither the time, the transportation nor the financial means to seek out better food options before and after games. Really, a ton of these guys, especially in the low minors, subsist on bologna at home McDonald’s on the road.

You’d think that the first team to make a bigger investment in the eating and living conditions of their minor leaguers would reap some sort of reward for it.

Jim Hickey steps down as Cubs’ pitching coach

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The Cubs announced on Tuesday that Jim Hickey has stepped down as the pitching coach due to personal reasons. The club will begin a search for a replacement.

Cubs president of baseball operations Theo Epstein said in a statement, “Jim Hickey notified us yesterday of his decision to step down as pitching coach and leave the organization for personal reasons. We thank Jim for his season with the Cubs and his positive impact on our pitchers. Jim has our full support and we all wish him well.”

Hickey, 57, spent over a decade as a coach in the Rays organization before joining the Cubs for the past season, reuniting with Joe Maddon. The Cubs’ starting staff ranked 10th among all 30 teams with a 3.84 ERA and the bullpen posted an NL-best 3.35 ERA.