While ITM is not yet down in Ft. Myers in person, after analyzing a few different videos out there, it certainly appears Ortiz has slimmed down. Reportedly, he lost two inches off his waistline and added five pounds of muscle in the off season. Ortiz took healthy swings in the cage and showed no signs of caution from his wrist injury last season. Physical health and weight is important for Ortiz as his batting stance puts a significant amount of pressure on his legs and knees, so hearing he is in better shape this spring training is a positive sign for the future.
Also arriving today was Jacoby Ellsbury. Many point to him as the catalyst and perhaps most important element of the Red Sox offense. After winning the starting position last year in center field but eventually splitting time with Coco Crisp, he has the position all to himself in 2009. No pressure Jacoby, but we need a big year out of you. ITM has yet to hear any official reports, but Ellsbury appears to have put on some additional muscle in the off season as well.
As far as Pedroia goes....well....he's still money. His body fat is down to 10 percent, after being at 18 just three years ago. According to Dusty he has been eating well: “Just cutting out all the garbage....I like ice cream. I never eat ice cream anymore, it sucks.”
According to weei.com, as Pedroia went to the cages he told reporters.... “Time to go rake. I hope they have new nets up there because I’m going to wear them out.” Anyone else think he's like Jack Parkman from Major League Two, just much smaller?
So far, in the very early stages of spring training, it appears the Red Sox have worked hard over the off season to both get healthy and stronger. This could mean little once the season gets going, but it could also be a very important factor in sustaining long term health.
Check out the video below from Boston.com....showing a fit Ortiz (at first I thought he was limping, then I realized he's just really cool and that's how he walks), and of course Dusty bullying on Jacoby....
ITM should also note that Lugo, Drew, and Jed Lowrie have also reported early.