Texas Rangers right-hander A.J. Griffin hasn’t been on a special, fat-free diet or anything. But he’s been more mindful of what he puts in his body during the off-season and he’s lost noticeable weight. About six to eight pounds, he says.
“I stopped eating when I was bored,” he said.
The Rangers are hoping Griffin, who turns 29 in January, comes to spring training feeling stronger and with more stamina after an off-season of taking care of himself. Griffin signed with the Rangers a year ago after missing most of the previous two seasons following Tommy John surgery.
He was outstanding his first month in the rotation, compiling an 2.32 ERA over five starts. But arm soreness put him on the disabled list for much of May and June and his stamina down the stretch had to be closely monitored. He held opponents to three runs or fewer in 17 of his 23 starts in 2016. The six games he allowed more came July 10 or later, including eight earned runs allowed in four innings on Sept. 7 in Seattle. The second-half issues led to an inflated 5.07 ERA in 119 innings.
Rangers manager Jeff Banister talked with Griffin about taking care of himself when the season ended.
“It wasn’t about losing weight. It was about taking care of your body, playing this game for 162, over the 183 days,” Banister said. “How you take care of your body is important. For him, the commitment to, for the lack of a better term, being in good shape. I’m not going to say better shape, but good shape, and if losing weight is a byproduct of that and you tighten the body up then so be it.”
It’s not unlike conversations Banister had with every player before letting them loose for the off-season. Griffin, however, has a chance to be a regular member of the five-man rotation if he can prove his body will hold up. Griffin was a rising star for the Oakland A’s in 2012-13 when he went 21-11 over his first two seasons with a 3.60 ERA in 282 1/3 innings.
“We just talked to him about committing himself to working hard this off-season and coming back in the best shape he can be to go out an perform,” Banister said.