Tag:AL East
Posted on: February 17, 2012 9:13 pm
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NFL lineman helped Matt Kemp get in top shape



By C. Trent Rosecrans


With pitchers and catchers reporting this weekend, there will be a slew of reports about players coming into camp in great shape -- either having lost weight or put on muscle. The only thing we'll see more of than these reports people on Twitter and on blogs mocking those reports thinking they're making an original point about these kind of stories by making tired jokes.

One of these stories came over the Associated Press wire on Thursday, as the AP talked to Dodgers outfielder Matt Kemp about his offseason training. Kemp attributed much of his success last season to his offseason workouts at Zone Athletic Performance in Scottsdale, Ariz. Kemp dropped 15 pounds before going to camp last year and went on to an MVP-type season. What caused an editor to send me a link to the article was the hook that Zone is owned by an NFL player, who worked out alongside Kemp. What caught my eye was that NFL player was Eagles guard Evan Mathis.

Mathis isn't exactly a household name, despite the fact that ProFootballFocus.com ranked him the No. 1 guard in the NFL last season. But I covered Mathis both in college at Alabama and in the NFL with the Cincinnati Bengals and got to know him a little bit. So, with that as a starting point, I emailed Mathis about working with Kemp and he agreed to answer a couple of questions about his work with Kemp, as well as with the Dodgers' Dee Gordon and Darnell McDonald of the Red Sox.

Any doubt Mathis knows what he's talking about? Check out this photo of what he did during the NFL lockout:

Evan Mathis

Q: How'd you hook up with Matt Kemp?
A: We met six or seven years ago at a now-defunct training facility.

Q: Do you follow baseball at all, did you know much about him?
A: When we first met, he hadn't been in the majors yet.

Q: So after working with Matt last offseason, how closely did you follow him last year?
A: He was pretty much Zone Athletic Performance's first professional athlete client. As soon as we opened he was in there training preparing for his 2011 season. I definitely followed him throughout the season watching his hard work and dedication pay off.

Q: I'm sure you were happy with his success, but where you surprised?
A: Not at all.  The two trainers at Zone who handle our professional athletes, Garrett Shinoskie and Adam Mathis, have a wealth of knowledge when it comes to bringing the best out of an athlete. When you combine that with a player who has the drive and determination that Matt has, it's destined for success.

Q: What's the difference between working with baseball players and working with football players?
A: I'm not the one writing the programs but it is definitely different. But so is training an offensive lineman and a safety. Everybody has different strengths, weakness, goals, and requirements.  All of that goes into the formula for devising anyone's most efficient workout program.

Q: Are there any similarities?
A: Indeed there are some similarities. Most baseball and football players can benefit greatly from developing explosion through their hips.

Q: You mention the hips, that seems to make sense -- it's something you hear from all coaches. Hips seem to be an underrated part of the body to work on, but it makes sense because it's close to your center of gravity and controls everything in both the top and bottom half of the body. What kind of specific things do you do to strengthen that part of the body?
A: In baseball it's more about rotating the hips. A player can make an explosive rotation and put their strength behind the swing. For myself in football, when I hit a defender I explode through my hips and lift their center of gravity on contact. Some simple hip exercises include the medicine ball keg toss, kettle bell swing, step-ups, and the list goes on. The most important aspect of training for hip explosion is maintaining ones flexibility. At Zone, the trainers use the first ten minutes of each workout to do stretches and warm-ups to ensure maximum flexibility.

Q: Not giving away any secrets, but what's a typical workout like for an elite-level pro athlete? What about the diet?
A: Off-season training at Zone usually consists of 6 day weeks, each workout an hour long.  The average schedule is like this: Monday = arms, Tuesday = legs, Wednesday = core/conditioning, Thursday = torso, Friday = power, Saturday = core/conditioning. Each day has different dietary guidelines based on that day's workload.

Q: What's the most important thing you teach at Zone?
A: In a close second to the training is the diet.  Most athletes have no idea how to follow efficient nutritional guidelines. An athlete has to treat their body like a machine and put the best fuels into that machine that will maximize its production. I still have Garrett write out my diet because I'm not the expert in that field and he is.

Q: What kind of diet tip do you have for anyone out there?
A: The biggest thing for me was understanding the importance of carbohydrates. When used the right way, they can feed your muscles to maximum growth and help you maintain a high metabolism. My diet is a carb cycling diet. Based on the intensity of each day's training I will have either a high, medium, or low intake of carbs for that day. A lot of people try the low or no carb diets but that's like trying to drive a car with no gasoline. Your body needs its carbs. Getting into the details of the carb cycle would turn this response into an essay. There are numerous articles on the web about it and the trainers at Zone are actually working on an eBook guide as we speak.

Q: Any workout tips?
A: Change your routine every three-to-four weeks, don't stick to the same lifts for long periods of time. Every three weeks at Zone we have a completely new set of workouts. This aids in injury prevention, avoids training plateaus, and ensures that all muscle groups are getting their necessary attention.

Q: Often when a player starts camp and says they're "in the best shape of their life" people kind of roll their eyes and make a joke out of it. Does it matter or is it just talk?
A: Being in the best shape of your life definitely does matter for an athlete. There are two problems when it comes to an athlete saying that. The first is whether or not it's true when they say it. The second is, while it may be true, some guys won't work to maintain it throughout the season. Kemp stayed in constant contact with the trainers at Zone making sure he was doing everything he could to carry over all of the hard work he did throughout the season. I said I was in the best shape of my life going into last season and it definitely showed on the field.  I had a great year and it gave me a great starting point for this off-season to get in even better shape for 2012.


Q: Are you a baseball fan at all? Do you have any baseball background?
A: Growing up I was always a baseball fan. I was an avid card collector, a huge Frank Thomas fan, and I played a little baseball from ages 12-17. I still dabble in card collecting and can tell you almost any player's rookie year from 1986-2003. I tell Matt Kemp every day I see him that we need to go to the field so I can show him how to crush a ball. He thinks that it would be easier for him to crossover to football than it would be for me to go to baseball. I'm confident that I would crush a few bombs in BP if given the chance.

Check out the attached picture of a tweet between myself and Frank Thomas. I have to make something like this happen one day.


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Posted on: February 17, 2012 8:27 pm
Edited on: February 17, 2012 9:45 pm
 

Report: Uehara trade could lead to Oswalt signing

Roy Oswalt

By C. Trent Rosecrans


The Rangers' possible trade of reliever Koji Uehara may be enough to give the team enough salary relief to go ahead and sign free-agent right-hander Roy Oswalt, Jeff Wilson of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram reports.

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Oswalt had reportedly favored signing with the Rangers, but after shelling out big bucks for Yu Darvish, the Rangers didn't have enough left in their budget for what has been rumored to be his $10-million demand.

However, since Oswalt hasn't found a team that was on his wish list with enough money to meet his demands, he may have lessened those. Uehara is scheduled to make $4 million this season and has reportedly used his limited no-trade clause to nix two trades this offseason.

Wilson writes the Rangers may be looking for a utility infielder in return for Uehara, with the A's preferring to deal Adam Rosales rather than Eric Sogard.

Oswalt, 34, met with the Rangers last month and it is believed he told them he only wanted to start, not come out of the bullpen. He was 9-10 with a 3.69 ERA for the Phillies last season in 23 starts. He was twice put on the disabled list because of lower back problems.

The Rangers have said they wanted to move move Neftali Feliz in the rotation, but he -- or another starter -- could find themselves back in the bullpen if Oswalt signs. The team signed Joe Nathan this winter and he will close if Feliz starts.

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Posted on: February 17, 2012 12:21 pm
 

Report: Okajima fails physical with Yankees

By Matt Snyder

The Yankees had signed relief pitcher Hideki Okajima to a minor-league contract, likely to provide left-handed depth. As things currently stand, Boone Logan is the only lefty in the Yankees 'pen. And it appears that's how things will be moving forward, as Okajima has failed his physical and will not be in Yankees camp, reports Sweeny Murti of WFAN.

There is no word just yet as to why Okajima failed the physical, just that he failed it.

Okajima, 36, pitched for the Red Sox last season, sporting a 4.32 ERA and 1.44 WHIP in just 8 1/3 innings -- he spent most of his time in the minors. He has spent his entire five-year MLB career with the Red Sox. He was an All-Star in 2007, but his numbers have gotten progressively worse pretty much each season since then.

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Posted on: February 17, 2012 8:26 am
Edited on: February 17, 2012 5:45 pm
 

A.J. Burnett-to-Pirates trade agreed upon



By Matt Snyder


The reported A.J. Burnett-to-Pittsburgh deal is nearing completion, as CBSSports.com insider Jon Heyman has learned the two sides have agreed to make the trade. Burnett will need to pass a physical slated for Sunday, while Major League Baseball will need to approve the deal before it becomes official.

Money has been an issue from the start, obviously, as Burnett is owed $33 million for the next two seasons. Heyman reports the Yankees will pick up $20 million of that. Because the Yankees pay their players year-round, they've already paid him $2,062,500 this year and will pay him $9,437,500 more with the Pirates picking up another $5 million. In 2013, the Yankees will pay Burnett $8.5 million and Pittsburgh will pay him $8 million. With the saved money, the Yankees will now turn their focus to two bats. One target is left-handed hitting Raul Ibanez, presumably to fill the open DH slot -- or at the very least share time with right-handed hitting Andruw Jones. The Yankees' second target will be Eric Chavez, who spent 2011 with the club.

Burnett to Pirates
The return for the Yankees will be two lower-level minor-league players, 25-year-old right-handed reliever Diego Moreno and 20-year-old outfielder Exicardo Cayones.

Burnett, 35, was 11-11 with a 5.15 ERA, 1.43 WHIP and 173 strikeouts in 190 1/3 innings last season for the Yankees. He led the majors in wild pitches, one season after leading the majors in hit batsmen. Advanced stats, such as FIP, show Burnett hasn't been near as bad as his traditional stats indicate, however. He will also benefit moving from the mighty AL East -- in a hitters' park -- to the NL Central and the much more pitcher-friendly PNC Park.

Burnett will probably bump either Jeff Karstens or Kevin Correia from the Pirates' rotation, joining Erik Bedard, James McDonald and Charlie Morton. Keep in mind, though, that Morton's health is in question to start the season and Bedard's health is pretty much always in question, so I'd expect all six starters to get in their work this season.

As for the players going to the Yankees, neither are impact-type players. Moreno, a Venezuelan native, was 2-4 with a 3.63 ERA and 5 saves in 41 games in Class A and Double-A. He struck out 45 batters in 44 2/3 innings, while walking 18. He can hit 98, but has suspect command. Only seven of his appearances were in Double-A. Also from Venezuela, Cayones hit .228/.333/.325 between rookie-level and short-season Class A, with no homers in 38 games and 135 plate appearances. He stole three bases and was thrown out three times, as well. Make no mistake, these players weren't an important part of the deal. For the Yankees, it was about addition by subtraction.

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Posted on: February 16, 2012 12:03 pm
 

Arbitration season ends, owners win 5-2

Garrett Jones

By C. Trent Rosecrans


The Pirates wrapped up arbitration season on Thursday, beating Garrett Jones and settling with Casey McGehee on a one-year deal before heading to the arbitration room.

Jones was the seventh and final player to head to his arbitration hearing this winter, with owners taking a decisive 5-2 victory in 2012. Last season only three cases went to arbitration, with the players winning two (both against the Marlins -- the arbitrators must have felt sorry for them having to wear those new uniforms).

In a nutshell, the way arbitration works is that the player and team swap demands and after both sides make their cases, three arbitrators pick one number or the other -- in Jones' case, the arbitrators picked the team's offer of $2.25 million instead of Jones' demand of $2.5 million. Or, at any point before the door closes on the hearing room, the two sides can compromise. That's what the Pirates did with McGehee, settling at $2.5375 million, more or less between his request of $2.75 million and the team's offer of $2.35 million.

Because the hearings are so late in the offseason, most teams budget for the worst-case scenario with their arbitration-eligible players and the final result really on effects the guy signing the check and the guy cashing the check.

But hey, what's the fun of having winners and losers if you don't have a scoreboard. So here's looking back at this year's arbitration cases.

Team victories
The Brewers ($2 million) beat Jose Veras ($2.35 million)
The Nationals ($5 million) beat John Lannan ($5.7 million)
The Orioles ($800,000) beat Brad Bergesen ($1.2 million)
The Rays ($2.75 million) beat Jeff Niemann ($3.2 million)
The Pirates ($2.25 million) beat Jones ($2.5 million).

Marlins lossesPlayer victories
Emilio Bonifacio ($2.2 million) beat the Marlins ($1.95 million)
Anibal Sanchez ($8 million) beat the Marlins ($6.9 million)

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Posted on: February 15, 2012 6:26 pm
Edited on: February 15, 2012 8:50 pm
 

Report: MLB to void Orioles' contract with Korean

By C. Trent Rosecrans

Major League Baseball will void the Orioles' contract with 17-year-old Korean pitcher Seong-Min Kim, MASNSports.com's Roch Kubatko reports.

The Korean Baseball Association announced last week it had banned Orioles scouts from attending games in the country after it felt like the Orioles had broken an agreement not to sign players that young.

The Orioles later issued an apology, claiming ignorance of the "breach of protocol."

The Orioles singed Kim to a minor-league contract on Jan. 30 that reportedly included a $550,000 bonus. The Korean Baseball Organization said the Orioles didn't contact MLB first to receive clearance from the KBO to begin negotiations.

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Category: MLB
Posted on: February 15, 2012 5:16 pm
 

Blue Jays work out Cuban OF Jorge Soler

Alex AnthopoulosBy C. Trent Rosecrans

There had been a general consensus that 19-year-old Cuban Jorge Soler was going to sign with the Cubs -- and even one that suggested he had a deal in place -- but that may not be a done deal just yet. MLB.com's Jesse Sanchez reports Soler worked out for Blue Jays general manager Alex Anthopoulos and members of the team's front office at the tema's complex in the Dominican Republic.

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And it's not just the Blue Jays that are interested in Soler, as Sanchez adds the Orioles will visit with Soler on Sunday. CBSSports.com insider Jon Heyman reports the Marlins are interested in Soler, while other reports say the Yankees, White Sox and Phillies may also be in the mix.

Unlike recent export Yoenis Cespedes, Soler has yet to establish residency in the Dominican Republic, but has applied. After establishing residency, Soler will need to be declared a free agent by Major League Baseball and be cleared by the U.S. Treasury Department's Office of Foreign Assts Control before he can sign a contract. Cespedes was declared a resident of the Dominican Republic on Jan. 24 and 19 days later he was cleared by the OFAC and signed a four-year, $36 million deal with Oakland.

Soler reportedly has above-average power and projects as either a corner outfielder or first baseman. A right-handed thrower and hitter, Soler is 6-foor-3, 205 pounds and there are some reports that have him running above-average times, others have him an average runner at best. In the end, he's 19 and has plenty of growing to do. Unlike Cespedes, whoever signs Soler won't expect him to contribute to the major league team anytime soon, but in the end, he could be even better than the 26-year-old Cespedes.

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Posted on: February 15, 2012 3:37 pm
Edited on: February 20, 2012 6:30 pm
 

Valentine: Crawford will miss 'a few weeks'

By Matt Snyder

Red Sox left fielder Carl Crawford is expected to miss "a few weeks" of the regular season, says manager Bobby Valentine (via Pete Abraham). Crawford is recovering from minor surgery on his left wrist, an arthroscopic procedure he had back in the middle of January. Abraham also reports that Crawford can currently do everything except hit -- obviously he could run, but this also means he can use his left hand in the field.

The beginning of Crawford's Red Sox career couldn't have gone much worse. After signing a seven-year, $142 million contract, the four-time All-Star had the worst season of his career. He hit .255/.289/.405 with just 65 runs and 18 steals. Now it appears he'll miss a few weeks before being able to join his teammates in 2012, as they wish to erase the disaster that was the 2011 finish.

With Crawford out -- as we pointed out in the AL East position battles -- expect Cody Ross and Ryan Sweeney to man the corner outfield spots, flanking center fielder Jacoby Ellsbury. Darnell McDonald will then serve as the fourth outfielder.

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The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com