The New York Mets have gotten hit hard by the injury bug this season, and it appears part of the problem appears to be poor conditioning and preparation for the season. Outfielder Yoenis Cespedes showed up to camp with legs that looked like tree trunks after an offseason of heavy lifting with Mike Barwis and has promptly dealt with leg muscle injuries all season. Noah Syndergaard raved about how he added 17 pounds of muscle over the winter and suffered a partially torn lat in April that has kept him on the shelf since. It appears that those two have learned their lesson, with both players now vowing to make changes in their training regimens over the winter.
Cespedes is planning to incorporate more yoga into his workouts in place of weight lifting, Kevin Kernan of the New York Post reports. Instead of emphasizing muscle mass and strength, Cespedes wants to become more athletic, dropping 15 pounds to get down to a playing weight of around 210 pounds this winter. This should help Cespedes overcome his issues with leg injuries, which have cost him several months of action over the past two years. Syndergaard has also seen the light about his injuries, telling James Wagner of the New York Times that he “messed up” his body by focusing too much on adding muscle mass. This caused Syndergaard to become too bulky in the wrong areas, which probably contributed to the lat tear. Syndergaard indicated that he isn’t going to stop lifting weights since he needs the strength to last a full season, but that he will lift smarter going forward.
It’s wonderful to hear that several of the Mets’ best players have realized their old training routines were making them more susceptible to injuries. This should be an attitude adjustment the whole organization should make in their training approach, emphasizing flexibility over simply building as much muscle mass in possible. The players who emphasize flexibility in their training, such as Jacob deGrom and Curtis Granderson, are predictably the only ones who have stayed on the field this season. Flexibility is more important in baseball, where more fluid motion is required, than the brute strength football requires. The sooner the Mets recognize this the better since they will be able to have their best players on the field instead of on the trainer’s table.