Orioles overhaul strength and conditioning program

SARSASOTA, Fla.– The red shoes are a dead giveaway, the slow spread around an Orioles clubhouse proudly dominated with so much orange and black that you almost have to do a double take seeing them pop up in so many lockers this spring.

What they are, Adidas AdiPower Olympic weightlifting shoes, is less important than what they represent to an organization that has overhauled just about every facet of its operations in the last few years, including the addition of a strength-and-conditioning program unparalleled — and almost entirely foreign — throughout baseball.

“When you see a guy wearing those shoes, you know he’s bought in,” said Paul Cater, one of four strength-and-conditioning coaches — overseen by vice president of baseball operations Brady Anderson — who is working with the Orioles in Major League Spring Training. “It’s a shift in culture, from what I understand. Every single person we’ve talked to said they’ve never had a better strength-and-conditioning program than this.”

Gone are the days of bicep curls and running pole to pole, replaced by a state-of-the-art facility with mobility and yoga sessions, Olympic lifts, long jumps and handstands. Speed and power is king at Orioles camp, and on this particular spring afternoon, Jason Hammel is doing shoulder exercises with a band, outfielder Chris Dickerson is outside being timed in a 40-yard dash with speed traps set up — which he refers to as his “NFL Combine Day” — and Nick Markakis is doing cleans.

The workouts are efficient — none of the trio spends longer than 20 minutes on that given area — they are detailed — logged in daily folders that will go into each player’s binder — and they are always overseen in small groups, often one-on-one. In Markakis’ case, Anderson will record the lifts to critique and add it to a library he already has of the right fielder, whose personal weight room — along with several other players — Anderson helped set up this winter.

Welcome to the newly revamped strength-and-conditioning program in Baltimore, where the long-beleaguered franchise is fresh off its first playoff appearance in 15 years and finally ahead of the curve.

To read the rest of my feature on the Orioles’ revamped strength and conditioning program, click here.

***
As is usually the case with a bigger story like this, I have some extra quotes and stuff I will pass along later with every member of the strength and conditioning staff I spoke with– Brady Anderson (who is technically vice president of baseball operations) Joe Hogarty, Ryo Naito, Paul Cater and Ryan Crotin– incredibly accommodating and helpful throughout the process. Below are some extra photos of the Orioles new facility and what they had worked with in the past.

The Fort Lauderdale complex had a small inside room and a tent outside for free weights

The Fort Lauderdale complex had a small inside room and a tent outside for free weights

Old facility

Old facility

The Sarasota weight room

The Sarasota weight room

New Oriole Jair Jurrjens with Ryan Crotin

New Oriole Jair Jurrjens with Ryan Crotin

weight room 4 weight room 3

The state-of-the-art facility

The state-of-the-art facility

Paul Cater and Zach Britton

Paul Cater and Zach Britton (Rule 5 draft pick TJ McFarland is looking on).

Brady Anderson and Nick Markakis

8 Comments

Excellent column Britt! You always give us fans in-depth, very detailed and informative reporting on Orioles spring training. This particular report is exciting by giving us a rare view of the training and facilities the team use. I’ve already told my fellow spring training season ticket holders about your reporting which they follow religiously now. Thanks again and hope to see you Wednesday at the ticket holder Q&A and autograph event!

Thank you James, I really appreciate it.

Really enjoy your blog. You give the reader so much insight into the workings of the Orioles. Thanks.

Thanks, Kevin. Much appreciated.

Great blog Britt – I love the behind the scenes coverage. Is the Sarasota facility at Ed Smith Stadium or the Buck O’Neil complex?

Thanks, Gary. It’s the Ed Smith Stadium complex, which is where the Major League spring operations are.

Britt, Apparently the Orioles bought some Kool-Aid. The dangers of Olympic lifting are fully researched. Even highly regarded Michigan State strength coach Ken Mannie does not allow his football players to do Olympic lifts because of the proven danger. How long will it take for the injuries to rack up? Did Ted Williams or Hank Aaron need strength training? No doubt also foolish for pitchers. http://www.pitching.com/blog/olympic-lifts-do-not-improve-velocity/

This excellent website certainly has all the information I wanted about this subject and didn’t know who to
ask.

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