David Aardsma is a nine-year major-league veteran relief pitcher. This is the first installment in a new series, “The Grind,” in which Aardsma will detail his efforts to prepare to return to the big leagues in 2017.
The idea with “The Grind” is to allow you all to follow my progress as I train and get ready for the 2017 season. There will be ups and downs, frustration and excitement. But really I wanted to show you what it takes to change who you are and to become better when all the odds are against you.
This is going to be a fun ride, but it will also be extremely hard for me. My goals are ambitious, and time is working against me. The 2016 season was a frustrating one for me. I entered the season with extremely high hopes, especially after a successful 2015 season. My training in the offseason went well, and I entered spring training in the best shape of my career. But, due to issues in my mechanics, I was more inconsistent than I have ever been. (You can read more about that here.)
I exercised the out clause in my contract in late May, and unfortunately, I am still a free agent. So here I am again, preparing for next year.
I have hardly been idle while waiting to sign. I started a fun podcast with my friend James called The Bullpen With DA (available on iTunes and SoundCloud); I signed up to take two college classes to progress towards my college degree; I began the process of writing a book about work ethic and the mindset it takes to truly change yourself and be the very best; and I created a pitch grip program to teach players of all ages how to throw pitches like a major-league pitcher.
I’m doing all this to prepare myself for life after baseball. At some point, I will retire, and I am planning on being absolutely ready when the time comes to step right in my next career.
That time isn’t now, however — right now, my biggest focus is being a beast next year. I want to walk into the locker room and have players look at me and say, “What the hell happened to Aardsma?”
My initial goal is go from 210 pounds to 240 pounds. Yeah, I know it’s crazy, but I need to make drastic changes to stay in the game I love. I’m eating everything I see, and with the help of my trainer, Brent Pourciau, we have built a lifting program that is going to make me, as Donald Trump would say, YUGE.
As I get a lot bigger and stronger, we will be putting a big focus on my mechanics to gain velocity and improve my pitch effectiveness. I not only want to be sitting at 95 mph next year, I want all my pitches to be as effective as they can. This will be difficult, but we have some cool technology that will help us along the way.
So I will be here at Baseball Essential documenting my transformation all offseason. I will also show you the behind-the-scenes process of what it takes to make it in the big leagues. I hope you enjoy it. I’d love to hear your feedback in the comments below.
[table caption=”The Grind”]
Weight,240 lbs.,216 lbs.
Back Squat,450 lbs.,355 lbs.
Power Clean,300 lbs.,255 lbs.
Bench Press,350 lbs.,275 lbs.