Sometimes professional athletes have to stretch the truth in order to avoid trouble. When it comes to age however, New York Mets superstar third baseman David Wright is literally stretching the truth.
“It’s a lot of stretching,” he said. “I think that’s something that maybe I’ve incorporated more as I’ve gotten a little older than I did when I was younger. It’s something that I wish I would’ve done earlier.”
Wright turned in another All-Star season in 2013 by hitting .307 and slugging .514. But a strained intercostal muscle on his left abdomen during the World Baseball Classic a right hamstring strain kept him out for nearly half of the season.
Therefore Wright, who says he spends each and every offseason reviewing the finished season picking out his strengths and weaknesses, decided to make leg strength and flexibility the focus of his latest offseason workout regimen.
“This offseason I really tried to focus more on strengthening [the hamstring] to make sure it’s a one time thing and not a reoccurring injury,” Wright said. “So for me, a lot of my offseason was dedicated to trying to strengthen my legs and to gain some flexibility.”
So far Wright has played 32 pain free games for the Mets this season, hitting ,278 (including going 6 for 19 with 3 RBIs against the Miami Marlins) and driving in 17 runs. It's early, but that cliché shouldn't dismiss his encouraging progress.
Flexibility and nimble movement is key for MLB infielders for both playing the position and preventing injuries such as muscle strains. Rays third baseman Evan Longoria has practiced inversion exercises such as yoga since his rookie year and he has been long considered to be the best third baseman in the American League. When Phillies shortstop Jimmy Rollins was Wright’s age in 2010, he played less than 100 games for the first time since the year of his MLB debut in 2000. He gets into yoga; he never gets injured again and won the Gold Glove Award in 2012. Even old timers like Raul Ibanez, Steve Finley and Omar Vizquel credits peak fitness incorporated with flexibility for being able to play in the show well into their 40's.
“You can never be too flexible,” Wright said. “There’s so much twisting and turning and rotation stuff in this game that the more flexible you are, the better chance you have.”
He is projected to play 149 games and hit 16 home runs and 77 RBI, but if he's playing 149 games, he'll hit more than that.