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Rays' Odorizzi hopes weight gain improves strength

Starting pitcher Jake Odorizzi says he gained 17 pounds during the offseason as he sought to strengthen his core and base.
Starting pitcher Jake Odorizzi says he gained 17 pounds during the offseason as he sought to strengthen his core and base.
Published Feb. 23, 2015

PORT CHARLOTTE — While other players (and certain sportswriters) spend their offseason trying to lose weight, Rays RHP Jake Odorizzi worked hard to go the other way.

Seeking to strengthen his core and base, Odorizzi was on an exercise-and-diet regimen to add weight and was happy to have put on 17 pounds, reporting to camp at 197.

"It was just eating a lot of food, obviously healthy food, but pretty much as much as I could shovel in," Odorizzi said. "Pretty much every meal I ate was larger than I would have had last year. … There were just a lot of meals, like six or seven a day. I'd eat something every two-three hours."

Breakfast some days was four eggs, plus ham and cheese. Lunch and dinner, large portions of fish, steak, chicken and rice. Usually a protein shake after workouts and before bed.

Working with teammate RHP Chris Archer at Tampa's Performance Compound at the direction of Jason Riley (whose past clients included Derek Jeter), Odorizzi — coming off a solid 11-13, 4.13 rookie season — was very pleased with the program.

"My upper body's not that much different, it's almost all from the waist down," Odorizzi said. "Just more strength for pitching, and more stability. … More body control having a sturdier base."

Odorizzi, who will stick to a tailored version of the plan to maintain weight during camp, is eager to see how it impacts his performance, or possibly even his velocity.

"I feel really good, that's the main thing," he said. "Everything feels good coming out, my body feels strong. That's the most I can ask for coming into spring."

CODE RED: Sunday was a big day for OF Kevin Kiermaier, who overcame his fear of seeing blood to get through his physical with no issues. "I survived, I didn't pass out this year," he said. "In years past, I would throw up and I would pass out. It was my most dreaded day of spring training, that first day of getting physicals. I beat myself up mentally about it, but I became very mentally strong over the years and today I conquered it, so I'm happy."

PITCHING IN: Two of the 31 rostered pitchers are expected to miss today's first official workout, visa issues delaying RHP Alex Colome's departure from the Dominican Republic and non-roster RHP Ronald Belisario from Venezuela. Colome, who was suspended 50 games last season for PED use, could have an extended delay. … RHP Alex Cobb and LHP Drew Smyly are among the 15 pitchers scheduled for bullpen sessions today.

HELPING HAND: LHP Jake McGee and RHPs Brad Boxberger and Kirby Yates took part in the Pediatric Cancer Foundation's Fashion Funds the Cure event Saturday in Tampa, walking the runway with the ill children. "It's an awesome experience," McGee said. "It's just so rewarding to see all the kids there and be able to hang out with them."

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MISCELLANY: Overall 52 of the 63 players were in camp by Sunday. … New manager Kevin Cash, in his first official act, plans a brief address to the players, with a bigger speech to the full squad Saturday. … The biggest star in the clubhouse Sunday was noted surgeon Dr. James Andrews, the team's medical director. … Among interesting locker placement, rookie OF Steven Souza is next to team leader 3B Evan Longoria.