The Grind, Part 3; or, Facing Tim Tebow, Part 2

David Aardsma is a nine-year major-league veteran relief pitcher. This is the third installment in his series, “The Grind,” in which Aardsma details his efforts to prepare to return to the big leagues in 2017.

This week was definitely an eventful one for me. My lifting has been progressing nicely, or at least it’s making me really sore and really tired. I’ve pitched to Tim Tebow twice now, we’ve had a couple of great podcasts, and my class on Kinesiology is about to start up.

Pitching to Tebow the second time was eye opening. During my first story for Baseball Essential, I really praised Tebow on his baseball IQ. His raw skills were quite evident, but he seemed like a hitter in his first week of spring training. His swing was just a little off on a lot of the pitches, but his misses weren’t bad. He looked like he just needed a lot more time on a baseball field for everything to come together.

I faced Tim again a week later, and he looked like a much more complete hitter. For every negative I saw the first time, he looked like he had progressed immensely. His timing looked right on, his adjustments got even better, and almost every swing I saw was aggressive and he attacked the ball. He continued to stay tight with his plate discipline, and his passion for the game is evident in almost everything he does.

I also got to see Tim take fly balls in the outfield and make throws to bases. Believe it or not, he actually doesn’t look out of place. His throwing motion looks a little unnatural in the follow through, but the throws are accurate and the arm strength in adequate. His throwing motion looks like he is throwing a football with his follow through — where baseball players’ arms almost speed up during the follow through, his looks like it slows down at the second of release. If you’re looking at him, it doesn’t look like the best throwing motion (far from it); but if you watch only the ball, the throws are pretty good. He also ran a 60-yard dash when I was there, and it was really fast. By the way, 60 yards looks really, really far — I’m happy I didn’t need to run it.

I need to take a second here and say something. I realize that what I’m writing here seems contrived and like I’m getting paid to write good things about Tebow. I walked into this as skeptical as anyone — I just wanted to see if it was for real. If he had looked bad, I would have been honest. If he had looked like he didn’t have what it takes, I would have said it. I’m not saying he is a major leaguer tomorrow. I’m not even saying he’s a major leaguer eventually. I’m only saying he is showing all the skills and intangibles it takes to make it. I’ve seen players with much less make it in the big leagues, and I’ve seen players with much more fizzle off in some minor-league affiliate.

Back to my personal goals. You’d think it would be fun eating a lot and trying to gain weight, but I feel disgusting. I keep asking my wife if she is okay with me being fat, because it’s going to happen. My actual goal is to create as much lean muscle mass as possible, but I’m going to gain fat along the way. During the 2014 season, I was staying as fit as I could be and got down to around 195 pounds. After gorging myself these past few weeks, I’ve gotten myself up to 220 pounds as of Sunday morning. On Saturday, I actually got up to 4,600 calories. I know it’s nowhere near the 12,000-calories-a-day Michael Phelps diet, but it’s getting me the gains. I’m stuffing my face every two or three hours, and I can’t stand it anymore. See some sample food logs below.

This coming week should be really interesting. I can’t give too much away now, but look out for it.

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