Dynamic Duo Help Build Better Ballplayer Bodies

It’s 1 p.m. Game time is at 7 p.m. and Athletic Trainer Carlos Olivas and Strength and Conditioning coach Eric McMahon are already in their offices preparing for the day’s activities. Olivas is spending his lunch break eating a sandwich at his computer going over expense receipts while McMahon is updating exercise programs for each of the players.

Pitcher Fabio Castillo is the first player of the day to enter their office, asking if McMahon is ready to time him on his workout. McMahon tells him to work on the bike and stretch and then they’ll start Castillo’s plank routine. While Castillo starts his bike ride, McMahon unpacks the “mobile gym.” The mobile gym is a big bag packed with things like elastic bands and smaller exercise equipment that might not be at other clubhouses. The equipment is used if players don’t have time to visit a gym or get a workout in at away games. McMahon then goes out to the field to set up the cones for workouts and drills that will take place up until batting practice.

It’s 1:17 p.m. and McMahon sets up the cones in a straight line at varying distances. For starting pitchers, there is a set program that starts off with a heavy workout routine and tapers down in intensity leading up to the day that person pitches. Although many of the workout routines are set, McMahon says there is always some flexibility to the programs.

“I like to give guys choices for their conditioning,” McMahon said. “A guy needs to like his routine. I take suggestions from the guys on what they like and try to incorporate it into their programs.”

Castillo and McMahon set up in the training room and started doing the plank routine together timing each side for 30 seconds and doing a “marching” set for 15 seconds where the player rotates lifting his legs while in a plank position. After completing the routine, McMahon and Castillo walk down the player’s tunnel together out to the field. This week, the pitchers will have a choice for part of their routine. They can choose between having an off day, running sprints, or running a 300-yard shuttle. Castillo elects to run the 300-yard shuttle to get it out of the way. He lines up on one end of the cones and waits for McMahon’s signal to begin. On his signal, Castillo takes off. McMahon explains this drill is one way to gauge a player’s endurance.

“The goal of this drill is for a player to make it in less than a minute,” McMahon said. “After the first time through the drill, the player rests for two minutes before running it again. The goal is to get the same time or a better time than the first drill.”

Castillo rests before running again and he bests his time by a second. The two walk back to the clubhouse to work on more game preparations. One fixture of the training room that has become a player favorite is the snow cone station. Next to the ice machine in the training room, a line of Hawaiian Punch flavored syrups wait to be poured.

While McMahon and Castillo go through their routine on the field, Olivas is in the training room going through a big box of black and white socks. He was going to ship the socks to all the trainers. He explained that when there are lulls throughout the day, he finds side stuff to do such as counting out the socks and filling up the Whirlpool tubs full of water. The next player to make their way to the training room is third baseman Mike Olt who needs his hand to be looked at. Olivas examines it and instructs Olt to lay down on the table. Olivas grabs some gel, puts some on Olt’s hand, and massages it for about 10 minutes. While Olt is getting his hand worked on, Chris McGuiness comes in and grabs a bottle of Aleve off the counter asking Olivas how many he needs to take. He takes two before putting the bottle back with the towers of bottles of aspirin, baby powder, sunscreen, and rolls of tape. After Olt leaves the training room, Olivas heads back to his desk when outfielder Val Majewski comes in asking about what he should do about the nosepiece on his sunglasses since they were a bit big. A bit of hand lotion solved the problem and both went their separate ways.

Olivas was working on paperwork when pitcher Tim Murphy came in the training room looking to find some relief for his shoulder. Murphy laid on his back on the training table while Olivas massaged to find kinks to work out. While massaging Murphy’s shoulder, they talked about their family. Murphy had a bullpen session that day and Olivas wanted to make sure that his shoulder was as loose as possible. Olivas said he is hands-on with player treatment and he works with an orthopedic doctor and a chiropractor for more serious injuries.

During Murphy’s treatment, pitcher Jake Brigham walks in looking for baby powder. Olivas looks up from Murphy’s shoulder to kid Brigham about needing a haircut. Brigham laughs admitting it is getting pretty long and he needs to cut it. As Brigham walks away smiling, catcher Zach Zaneski comes in to borrow a pair of nail clippers. He sits on the other training table and watches Olivas massage Murphy’s elbow. They kid as Olivas says there is no way he would cut any of the guy’s nails. Zaneski, satisfied with the look of his nails, returns the nail clippers. Outfielder Brad Hawpe comes in and lays down on the second training table to wait his turn with Olivas. He jokes with Olivas as he finished Murphy’s treatment. Olivas then turns his attention to treating and massaging Hawpe’s lower back.

While Olivas is busy treating players, McMahon is overseeing the player’s workouts in the weight room although McMahon said he never really has to be on top of anyone because they are all very motivated.

At 3:10 p.m., McMahon heads back out to the field to prepare for the pitchers to begin their pre-game routine on the field. While he waits, he works one-on-one with Majewski getting in some wall sprints and foul poles. At 3:30 p.m., the pitchers line up to start drills. They work on lunges, side twists, and squats before lining up in a circle to stretch. After about 12 minutes of stretching, the pitchers start throwing with each other. Olivas throws with pitcher Miguel De Los Santos on the end of the line. When De Los Santos is warm, Olivas heads back to the training room with pitcher Ryan Rodebaugh.

It’s 3:56 p.m. and the TV in the training room is turned on to a show about cars. Olivas turns to Rodebaugh asking if he really wants to watch this. Saying no, Olivas hands him the remote which eventually ends up on ESPN. The upcoming football draft is the subject of conversation as Olivas begins to massage Rodebaugh’s oblique. After about 15 minutes, Olivas puts gel on the tender spot for an ultrasound treatment. Olivas then gets up and prepares an ice pack. He puts electrodes on the oblique and puts the ice pack on top of that before adding a light weight to keep slight pressure on the spot. Pitchers begin to trickle into the training room as their warm-up has ended for the day and the position players head out to do their drills. Olivas heads out to the field at 4:30 p.m. for batting practice. He has bonding time with pitching coach Jeff Andrews before every game by throwing with him before Andrews throws batting practice to the second group of hitters. Olivas and McMahon both talk to coaches and trainers for the Missions who are warming up and doing drills in right field while Frisco takes batting practice. Olivas eventually moves into right field to help shag balls.

Eventually batting practice concludes and the team heads to the clubhouse along with Olivas and McMahon. Final pre-game treatments like De Los Santos’ shoulder will be mended before dinner is served. The guys then await first pitch to watch the game. In the first inning of the April 23 game against the San Antonio Missions, Carlos Pimentel was hit by a line drive. He fielded the ball and got the runner out at first but Olivas went out to check on him anyway. Seeing that he was okay and fine to continue pitching, Olivas headed back to the dugout, and the two of them sit back and watch the rest of the game.

After the ‘Riders victory, Olivas meets up with his family while McMahon heads back down to the club house to do final training sessions with some of the players signaling the end of another successful day at the ballpark.

Written by: Jarah Wright

Photos by: Alex Yocum-Beeman

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