KING OF STRETCH
One of baseball?s standout sluggers, Joey Bats ? known for his ability to swing the lumber ? works hardest at staying limber
Fans rarely fail to take notice of the big plays. The game-winning home run is hardly ever lost on those who bear witness, but that is not to say that much can happen during the course of a game that flies under the radar. Take, for instance, Jose Bautista. The secret to his success is what so many don?t see and that is how hard he works to constantly stay loose and keep his body agile. These are the things that many people might miss while watching any given Blue Jays? game and it?s not necessarily their fault. Let?s face it: in a world full of Twitter musings, grade inflation, a growing obsession with Purell hand sanitizing, and, of course, genital piercing, it?s not hard to get distracted.
But, wherever he happens to be during the passage of a ball game ? whether he is relaxing in the dugout, looking on from his position in right field, or even in the batter?s box after taking a pitch ? it?s a pretty good bet that at virtually any given moment Bautista is bending or folding or extending some component of his anatomy. No joke. Jose Bautista has taken calisthenics to a whole new level with an unmatched pre-game ? and in-game ? routine that features a non-stop exhibition of his stretching prowess that includes, but is not limited to, regular back extensions, squats, leg raises, neck rotations, among others.
His signature move, however, is to grip the bat with each hand on opposite ends of the bat, hold it over his head and then gyrate his arms in a backwards motion that would tax most people?s shoulder joints to the breaking point. There is no telling how many times Bautista goes through this stretching motion in just a single game, let alone a season?s worth of games, but he is sure fond of subjecting his glenohumeral joints to extreme backward rotations that most people past their seventeenth birthday only wish they could still do. It may be that his bones are made of a plasticine-like substance or maybe he is auditioning for the role of the Fantastic Four?s Reed Richards, but there is rarely a time when Bautista is not stretching.
The odds are that Bautista?s never-ending medley of calisthenics will have the long-term effect he desires of helping him to prolong his career. His commitment to stretching is undoubtedly bound to help him play longer because the theory behind stretching is that it helps a player reduce soreness while keeping his full range of motion and warding off potential injury that can happen from, say, pulling a muscle. Though not even Joey Bats can know for sure, it may be that his frenzy of gymnastic maneuvers is already paying dividends now that he recently celebrated his 35th birthday(during his impressive playoff performance, no less) and is able to remain at the top of his game. Jose?s muscles, tissues, and tendons can thank him for his dedicated stewardship over the years as he maintains a lithe, athletic body that has allowed him to produce for the Blue Jays year after year without a drop off in either running speed or sheer athletic abilities.
While some guys have to be prodded by the team?s strength & conditioning coach during pre-game workouts to get off their rumps and stretch, Bautista bursts into his stretching routine at the drop of a hat. Like a contortionist from Cirque du Soleil, Bautista?s unusual physical flexibility is on display in much the same way that water is on display at Niagara Falls.