That's right! Spring is here! What's that you say? Haven't seen a robin hopping around in your yard yet? Never fear, fellow spring lover! An even more sure sign of the end of winter is upon us. Yes, baseball players have reported to camp, and virtually all of them are in the best shape of their lives!
Julio Lugo, who came in about 5 pounds heavier (seemingly all muscle) than he did last season, said he would have played in the World Series last fall had the Sox gotten that far. He was healthy by that point, and now is ready to begin the 2009 season, completely healed from the quadriceps injury that cut short his 2008 campaign. He's also, he said, in the best shape of his life.Ryan Ludwick
Ludwick soon expressed remorse for what he said, although he added that he was in the best shape of his life after an active winter of weight training.Juan Pierre
"That stuff is out of my hands," said Pierre. "I learned last year I can only control what I can control. I came in the best shape of my career and I'm ready to go. After last year, they can't throw too much stuff at me I won't be ready for. Everybody knows I want to play every day, but it's not in my hands."Dustin Pedroia
Pedroia said he gave up ice cream over the winter as part of his training program and is in the best shape of his career. He said he's ready to help the team get back to the playoffs after losing to the Tampa Bay Rays in Game 7 of the American League Championship Series last October.Ronnie Belliard
Bowden said Belliard is in the best shape of his career since he joined Washington two years ago. Belliard played in 96 games last year and hit .287 with 11 home runs and 46 RBIs. [John: WTF? Best shape of career since two years ago? What does that even mean?]Brad Penny
Penny, who is younger than A.J. Burnett and in 2007 was third in the NL Cy Young Award balloting, is in the best shape of his career. He says his shoulder was so weak last year, "I never should have tried to pitch." But after a winter of dogged conditioning and buying into the Red Sox program, Penny says he is throwing "as well as I ever have" and pitching coach John Farrell now believes Penny will open the season in the rotation.Freddie Sanchez
"I feel like I'm in the best shape of my career," Sanchez said. "This is the strongest I've ever been. There have been no setbacks in my throwing program. My shoulder is feeling good. It feels strong and I want to see where it all goes this season."Ryan Howard
Howard's friends have been buzzing all winter about how committed he was to improving his defense and conditioning. And while it's a little early to assess his leather craftwork, there's no doubt he's in the best shape of his career, after dropping 20 pounds in the offseason.Chris Lubanski
"I know I can run," he said. "I know I haven't run as much as I should have in the past. I've focused this offseason to get into the best shape of my life. That is one thing this year I'm going to show is my speed cause I know it is still there. I know I still have it."Alex Gordon
He’s been a disappointment his first two years in the majors, but reports are he’s in the best shape of his life, and working with former Royals 3B Kevin Seitzer can’t hurt.Carlos Pena
"When I tell you I was heartbroken, I was heartbroken, man. I was like, 'You've got to be kidding me.' I waited for [the World Baseball Classic] two years, I couldn't be a part of this last time. Now I'm in it, and I can't be a part of it. But at the same time, I'm making sure I take advantage of this time to heal. And I think it will all work out for the best. So I haven't spent too much time dwelling on the fact I won't be a part of it. Instead, I'm like, 'All right, I've got a lot of time to get into the best shape of my life.'"What's amazing about this list is that it covers the entire spectrum of MLB players. For Pete's sake, last year's AL MVP says that this year he's in the best shape of his life. I have bad news, Dustin: you aren't likely to improve on last year.
Again, I have no doubt that the players believe this and that for some of them it's actually true. What kills me is that writers bother to use it and unironically at that. We get it. You worked hard during the offseason. Now let's talk about something interesting!
Also, here is a special bonus "best shape" article:
[Padres relief pitcher Heath] Bell said Monday that his workouts with the Nintendo Wii Fit were a big reason why he dropped about 25 pounds during the offseason and why he considers himself in "tip-top" shape as he prepares for his role as closer now that icon Trevor Hoffman has moved to Milwaukee.As for the Nintendo Wii, Bell often played that with his wife and children at their home in Florida. It wasn't until the Bells purchased the Wii Fit game and board that he started doing the exercises that helped him get in what he considers the best shape he's been in since joining the Padres in 2007.
Woohoo! Happy baseball to all!
PS: Thanks, Google News!