Baseball, in general, doesn’t like change. A look at the game’s history, even recent history, proves that.
But it’s not just the big topics — such as who is allowed to play the game, drug testing, replay and pace of play — that the game will drag its feet on. Something as helpful as proper nutrition was once met with raised eyebrows.
With time, though, teams are realizing the benefits of what a good diet can do to boost player performance. Jose Vazquez, the Texas Rangers’ strength and conditioning coach, tries to stay on the cutting edge.
To that end, Vazquez has aligned the club with a dietician who will help players eat better. It’s not as simple as cutting fats and counting calories, but the plan will focus on the super foods and how food is prepared.
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“The diet is crucial,” Vazquez said. “Little by little, baseball is beginning to catch up that diet is important and that we have to feed these guys different than in the past. Diet is beginning to be a focus.”
Vazquez wants players eating the leanest proteins for healthy muscle gain and foods with antioxidants to help reduce inflammation. He wants certain cooking oils used to help foods react better once eaten.
These concepts wouldn’t have flown too well when Vazquez entered the game. Now, though, he said the Rangers are offering him more and more support.
“In baseball, anything you introduce, even with the best intentions, you’re always going to have people rolling their eyes,” he said. “It’s more accepted. I can do things and speak my mind and voice my opinion. I think my opinion is valued a lot more. It’s way different.”
Taking manager’s money
Prince Fielder isn’t known for his base-running prowess, but he showed some Wednesday as he advanced twice on wild pitches in the first inning. And he won a bet with his manager.
Jeff Banister had challenged the players by offering an undisclosed amount of money, believed to be the day’s meal money, for the first player who moved up on a ball in the dirt. That it was Fielder pleased Banister.
“What a groundswell that is to have one of your power guys and leaders that these guys truly watch to be excited about that and energized by that,” Banister said. “Shoo, it was fun for me to watch. It wasn’t just that he moved up. If you go back and watch, there was no hesitation. He was looking for it.”
By the numbers
18 Career stolen bases by Prince Fielder, including a high of seven in 2007. He didn’t get one in an injury-shortened 2014, snapping a streak of eight consecutive seasons with at least one steal.
“Look, I’m not going to start either one of them on a baseball field. I’ll keep them out there throwing that pigskin.”
— Manager Jeff Banister when asked who was atop the Rangers’ depth chart at quarterback, Russell Wilson or Tony Romo
Jeff Wilson, 817-390-7760