Muscle Sport Magazine

Washington Nationals Await Return of Slugger Bryce Harper

The current baseball season still has more than two-thirds left and it behooves a team to tread water and keep themselves hanging around while their best player is on the disabled list. Such is the case with the Washington Nationals, who  – at the time of this writing – stood at 24-25 and in third place in the National League East, three-and-a-half games behind the front running Atlanta Braves.

Bryce Harper, their 21-year-old slugging outfielder, injured his left thumb at the end of April sliding headfirst into third base after hitting a triple. He tore his UCL in the finger and underwent surgery and is expected to be sidelined until early July.

Harper is a very important cog that makes the Nats go. Since being drafted first overall in 2010, he has been anointed as the next great player and hasn’t disappointed. Harper won the 2012 National League Rookie of the Year Award in helping lead the Nats to their first post-season appearance since moving from Montreal and in 139 regular season games, he hit .270 with 22 home runs, 26 doubles and 59 RBI.

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The 6’3”, 230-pounder put on nearly 20 pounds of muscle during the off-season and got himself prepared to win that at-bat confrontation by training with Tim Soder the past two winters. Arriving at the trainer’s Las Vegas facility at 5:30 a.m., Harper— along with a group that included fellow big leaguers and also minor leaguers— went through a litany of exercises in the weight room that lasted in the area of two hours, four days a week.

On certain days, Harper will perform heavy compound movements such as power cleans, squats and dumbbell bench presses. And then there are days that are filled with supersets for both push and pull muscle groups.

It is stunning to think that it was only a short time ago that baseball players were discouraged to train in this fashion and how much things have changed since then, something not lost on Brady Anderson.


“I was criticized for lifting weights early in my career and actually told not to,” the former centerfielder and current Vice President of Baseball Operations of the Baltimore Orioles says. “When I was a rookie with the Boston Red Sox in 1988, we didn’t have a full-time strength and conditioning coach— and many teams didn’t either. We didn’t even have a gym.”

Times have changed, though, and Cory Snyder sees it up close every day just how much. “There’s a strength conditioning coach at every level in the minor leagues,” the nine-year veteran and current hitting coach of the Jackson Generals, the Double-A affiliate of the Seattle Mariners, says. “They send [the players] home during the off-season with an entire workout and nutrition program. There’s a lot of money out there and [the organizations] have a lot invested in these players.”

Photo by Bill Menzel

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