Early spring training dispatches spend a lot of time on players’ weights. Makes sense, as one of the first things players do when they report to camp is to step on a scale. Most of the time that scale-stepping is not notable. These are athletes and most of them work out all winter, know their weight to a tenth of a pound and don’t make a point to tell anyone about their weigh-in.
It’s a bit different for some guys, though. Especially bigger fellas who are coming off disappointing years. If and when they come back to camp having cut a bunch of weight, you can bet that we’ll hear about it. It’s not quite a Best Shape of His Life situation, but it serves the same purpose: to send out an early signal that things are going to be better and different this year.
We have two such dispatches today:
Cecil, who is entering the third year of a $30.5 million, four-year contract, is coming off of a terrible season in which he posted a 6.89 ERA, and walked more guys than he struck out in 32.2 innings. His season was interrupted by shoulder and foot injuries, though it’s not entirely clear that they were directly conditioning-related. A bigger issue was probably the great deal of personal setbacks he experienced : his wife lost her father and, before that, her mother was on life-support for a while. He even had to put his dog down last year which, man, that’s terrible too. I can imagine it was hard to concentrate with all of that. Obviously the conditioning improvement will help, but just having a calmer personal life will likely help too.
Gohara’s had a similar mix of tragedy and injury. His father died last offseason which, yeah. He also hurt his ankle and, obviously, wasn’t in great shape. He’s an immensely talented young guy — and as that interview with Braves’ GM Alex Anthopoulos I talked about yesterday revealed, the Braves are putting a lot of pressure on him to step up this year — so coming into camp in shape is a good sign. And really, his personal situation is obviously better this winter than last.
Anyway: now that everyone is done getting weighed, they can start throwing baseballs.