I've had a few readers wonder why a growing number of players are spending their winters at the Athletes' Performance Institute in Arizona, rather than working out at their local gym or hiring a personal trainer who makes house calls.
Minor league catcher Caleb Joseph lived with Brian Matusz for part of the offseason, and they joined Brian Roberts and Adam Jones for daily sessions at API that concentrated on fitness and nutrition.
I'm told Joseph returned home in better condition, and with an improved golf game.
Joseph was nice enough to write up something for jackdunn'sbaby, who passed it along to me. He also included a photo. See if you can pick out Joseph.
I arrived in Phoenix around the 9th of November. I got off the plane to beautiful weather and clear, high skies. It was the complete opposite of being at home. Tennessee was just beginning to get cold and nasty outside.
I stayed with Brian Matusz, friend and teammate, and enjoyed the lifestyle of a 'big leaguer' for a few weeks. He was very gracious to invite me to stay with him and to work out with him. Fans will be impressed as they discover how incredible Brian is. It's not by chance that Brian is such a nice person -- his entire family is quite impressive.
If I had my way, I would move in with him right now and spend every offseason with him. We think alike -- his attitude is identical to mine. Without a doubt, hands down, my favorite professional teammate so far.
The Athletes' Performance Institute training was exactly the same program I was enrolled in last year in Florida, but was totally different at the same time. The difference: This time there were plenty of big league players among the athletes training during my stay in Phoenix - players that I had, in some cases, grown up watching on TV.
At first, I just sat myself down and watched them - concentrating on how they trained and how they went about their business, trying to get every bit of information that I could. I want to be just like them.
Brian Roberts was incredibly nice to me and was, without a doubt, the hardest worker there. He was always the last one to leave, the most sweaty, and the happiest one to be there. He showed me a lot; even after he got his big contract, he still wants to be the best player he can be, no matter how much money he's already making. He's one of the reasons the Orioles' future looks so bright. Veteran leadership like that doesn't come around very often.
After a few days, I was no longer 'the new guy;' I was a friend just trying to get my work in. Several players began to take interest and talk to me and that was absolutely amazing. I felt like one of them and realized that they were not superhuman: they weren't all 6-foot-5 and 230 lbs.; and they weren't all self-absorbed.
What separates them from me is that they do what they do consistently. That's all. Almost every one of them wished me "good luck" and "good health" as I was leaving. I couldn't help but wonder if there was going to be a day, very soon, when I will be on the same playing field with them talking before the game, during BP, or in center field during pre-game stretching.
All I can do is continue to work hard and press toward the goal. This was an amazing experience that I'll never forget.
As for now, I'm in Pensacola working out at the same Institute as last year; only this year, I have Tyler Townsend, a fellow Oriole, as a roommate. Last year, it was Austin Jackson from the Yankees (now Tigers).
We're getting after it pretty hard, and every day I am motivated by Tyler's work ethic. It's great to have a fellow Oriole to work out with in the offseason.
I'm anxious as anything for spring training and ready to see what 2010 has in store for the Orioles. So long for now.