T Nation

Yankees Fire Strength Coach

From the Times today:

Yankees, Hurting, See Culprit: The Fitness Coach
By TYLER KEPNER
ARLINGTON, Tex., May 2 ? With one misstep on Tuesday, Phil Hughes, a Yankees rookie pitcher, lost his chance for a no-hitter. On Wednesday, Marty Miller lost his job.

Miller was not the manager. He was not even on the playing roster. He was the first-year strength coach, and he became the Yankees? latest casualty in a dreary 10-14 start to the season that includes four hamstring injuries to pivotal players.

?It?s time to find something else that works,? General Manager Brian Cashman said in explaining the dismissal. ?We?re experiencing too much of this stuff. I can?t tell you it?s directly related to him, but we?ve never dealt with this much of it at the same time, either. So I can?t deny it or ignore that.?

Cashman hired Miller last winter to the newly created, if awkwardly titled, role of director of performance enhancement.

Miller?s charge was to prevent injuries, but instead they multiplied, hobbling a team that has the largest payroll in baseball but, in recent days, has found itself in last place in the American League East.

Over the last two weekends, the Yankees lost five of six games to the Boston Red Sox, the team?s bitter rival, prompting the team?s principal owner, George Steinbrenner, to consider firing Manager Joe Torre.

Torre received a reprieve Monday when Steinbrenner issued a statement saying he supported him. But after Hughes strained his hamstring while throwing a curveball in the seventh inning of a game in which he had not given up a hit, Steinbrenner agreed with Cashman?s decision to fire Miller, an employee who few, if any, fans would recognize if they bumped into him.

?I hired Marty, and I thought he would bring a lot to the table and be a huge benefit,? Cashman said.

?At the end of the day,? he said, ?you deal with results.?

When Hughes is placed on the disabled list Thursday, he will be the fourth Yankee to have landed there with a hamstring injury since mid-March, joining pitchers Chien-Ming Wang and Mike Mussina and outfielder Hideki Matsui.

Only one other major league team, the Cleveland Indians, has had even two players on the disabled list with hamstring problems since March 1. The injuries are a major reason for the Yankees? poor start.

?It?s weird,? said center fielder Johnny Damon, who sustained a calf injury on opening day and then opted out of Miller?s program, although he did not go on the disabled list. ?Sometimes there are years when it could be a calf injury or another injury that?s cropping up around the league ? but not all the players on your team.?

Damon said that Miller, who grew up a Yankee fan, worked hard to help the players. But Miller, 34, had never worked in the major leagues before Cashman hired him, and he did not connect with many of the players on a team filled with veteran All-Stars, including some with personal trainers.

Derek Jeter, for instance, has his own trainer, with whom he works in New York and during spring training. Jeter, who has not been injured this season, said he did not change his routines when Miller was hired.

?You?re alarmed, obviously, because guys are going down,? Jeter said. ?It?s unfortunate; that?s the only thing you can say. You don?t ever like to see guys get injured, let alone a few guys at the same time. It?s definitely bad timing. But you don?t like to see anybody lose their job.?

Miller, whose program de-emphasized running, declined to comment Wednesday. ?I only want to talk to the players,? he said.

One veteran player said Miller would have been a better fit on a younger team, where fewer players have their own routines and trainers. One problem, the player suggested, was not that Miller had too much influence, but that he had too little. Some veterans simply tuned him out because of the mounting injuries and his lack of experience in baseball.

?The knowledge that Marty had certainly was impressive,? Torre said. ?Now, does that mean he knew a lot about the body as it related to baseball? That?s what we don?t know.?

Miller?s prior baseball job was as a minor league trainer for the Montreal Expos from 1995 to 1997. The Yankees hired him from the Ballen Isles Country Club in Palm Beach Gardens, Fla., where he was the fitness director.

Cashman brought in Miller to replace Jeff Mangold, who had worked for the Yankees in two stints dating to the 1980s. Cashman, who named Miller?s assistant, Dana Cavalea, as his interim replacement, said he was not considering rehiring Mangold, who declined to comment when reached Wednesday on his cellphone.

?I don?t really know what they were trying to get across,? Mangold said, referring to Miller and Cavalea, ?so there?s no sense in my commenting.?

The hiring of Miller coincided with the installation of a new weight room at Yankee Stadium as part of a $10 million deal with 24-Hour Fitness. Damon said some machines that were popular with players were removed, including a squat machine and a machine for leg extension. Damon said the players appealed to Miller to have them brought back, and the machines soon returned.

Players also asked to bring back the giant rubber bands Mangold had given them for pregame stretching, and they were back about a week ago. When players stretched here before Wednesday?s rained-out game against the Texas Rangers, about 15 of them were using the rubber bands, wrapping them around their feet and pulling them back to stretch their legs.

Cashman said he agonized over the decision to fire Miller and hardly slept after Tuesday?s game despite the Yankees? 10-1 victory against the Rangers. Ultimately, Cashman said he decided the perception, fair or unfair, that Miller had somehow contributed to the injuries was too much to ignore. Miller essentially had lost the confidence of the players in the clubhouse.

?That?s the sense I had, yeah,? Cashman said.

After deciding to fire Miller, Cashman said he called the team president, Randy Levine, who contacted Steinbrenner. Although Steinbrenner had spared Torre, he endorsed the firing of Miller, who has two years left on his contract.

?He?s been concerned about it, there?s no doubt,? said Steinbrenner?s spokesman, Howard Rubenstein, referring to the injuries. ?But it was in Brian?s hands, and it was Brian?s decision.?

As for Hughes, Torre guessed it would be four to six weeks before he would pitch again, in a minor league rehabilitation game. Hughes will have a magnetic resonance imaging exam on his hamstring when the Yankees return to New York on Friday.

The Yankees will find a replacement for him, as they have found replacements for their other injured pitchers. They are less sure they can truly identify the cause for the hamstring injuries.

?We?re having those discussions internally,? Cashman said. ?Things that hit in clusters like this, there?s got to be a reason.?

So, does anyone know anything about the new routines? I haven’t been able to find anything other than “they’re different.” The one thing I heard was Pettite was encouraged to ditch the squat belt (good), then proceeded to injure his back (bad), possibly because his abs/LB could not support his routine squat weight without the belt. Most of the criticism flying around seems to be speculation.

I saw this story earlier and thought tough break for this guy. Im not sure what his exact routines were but sounds like he was bringing a more knowledgeable style of training to the team and the players revolted.

It’s also possible the guy might have rushed into routines and exercises that the players weren’t accustomed to or prepared for and that led to the injuries. Who knows. But if everyone is getting injured and you can trace it back to the strength coach then I guess he has to go. The primary role of strength coaches these days is to prevent injuries from happening.

Fire Cashman. He cannot build a pitching staff.

Being a full time Yankee-hater. I love to see the Yankees doing poorly, but not at the expense of the player’s health. The injury bug bit Atlanta last year and that just flat killed our season so I know how Yankee fans are feeling right now.

When I first heard about this, I thought it was a bullshit move because I would expect most players to know a thing or two about training and would hire the right trainers for the job. Again, I am aghast at how little some to these pro’s know about training and recovery and rely on an ass-hat like this miller guy. Just like Drew Bree’s an is soy shakes.

(Prediction: Bree’s will have to wear a bra next season and will cry during half time.)

The 24 hour fitness gyms are garbage and the Yankees should do everything in there power to disassociate themselves with them. While the have a cornucopia of cable machines they have no free weights and nimrod trainers. If you can do a curl while you squat, you are not really squatting, right? The are a unisex “Curves” basically. Workouts for people who really don’t wanna workout.

I thought the move was another Stienbrenner styled ‘somebody has to pay’ firing. But now that I have a little more info it seems like the right move. Or at least ‘a’ right move. The guy was probably training these guys like girls.

He probably did little to no hamstring work which is why they have to be popping all over the place. The young guy Phil Hughes, makes you wonder. He couldn’t of been under Miller’s influence long. I was indestructible at 21. He must have been going hard off of adrenaline.

[quote]Zap Branigan wrote:
Fire Cashman. He cannot build a pitching staff.[/quote]

Keep Cashman, he can’t build a pitching staff to save his dick.

I would be very interested to know what team trainers are telling their players to do. A friend of mine plays for the Dodgers and their strength coach tells them not to touch their chest when benching.

He was a rookie last year so he prolly did what they told him. Oddly enough, he tore his hamsting in spring training (outfielder) and had surgery end this season.

[quote]pat36 wrote:
The 24 hour fitness gyms are garbage and the Yankees should do everything in there power to disassociate themselves with them. While the have a cornucopia of cable machines they have no free weights and nimrod trainers. If you can do a curl while you squat, you are not really squatting, right? The are a unisex “Curves” basically. Workouts for people who really don’t wanna workout.[/quote]

When I read that about 24 Hour Fitness I assumed the gym was not built in the typical 24 Hour Fitness style. Please let that be true.

[quote]pat36 wrote:
He probably did little to no hamstring work which is why they have to be popping all over the place. [/quote]

I doubt it. More likely he was working the hammies too much or having them stretch too much.

I would really like to hear from someone in the know on this one.

Something doesn’t make sense here.
Usually hamstring injuries like these ones have little to do with weak hamstrings and more to do with weak glutes. In my experience, I find that guys who pull their hamstrings sometimes have really friggin powerful hammies.

Not just cause they train them hard but because often times the hammies are making up the slack for their glutes.

Have the Yankees changed their team footwear recently? I know they are sponsored by adidas. I would love to know which shoes all these guys were/are wearing.

Ultimately, something in the way these guys were training was fucking up their movement pattern somewhere. Some muscle, somewhere, was not doing its job and therefore you have the injury to the hammy.

A lot of times that muscle isn?t the hammy but what lies above or below it.

Baseball is a tough sport when it comes to hammies because you spend so much down time between the action. It is like you rest, rest, rest, and then have to explode violently for just a few seconds. That is always a recipe for a muscle pull.

As far as wearing a belt and having a leg extension machine, I differ from most “functional” coaches in that I don’t see what the big deal is with those two pieces of equipment. Baseball is a long, long season and over the course of the year can wear on your body.

So even early on, athletes sometimes try to pace themselves, opting out of some of the more neurologically/physically challenging stuff for easier stuff like leg curls/ext. to maintain muscle mass without beating themselves up.

You also have to remember that blessed athletes usually just need to put on a few pounds of muscle to improve performance since they are so much more neurologcially skilled and tapped out in relation to their genetic abilities then say compared to us everyday schmuck’s. Some also tend to be lazy for that exact same reason.

Baseball is also such a highly skill dependent sport that often times working on your skils has a hell of a lot more carry over then anything you can do in the gym. Look at the difference in A-Rod when he changed just a couple of aspects of his swing.

I would like to learn more about what this guy was doing specifically before I comment any further.

The story in the NY Post mentioned that Miller took the weights out of their spring training regimen and he also did not allow them to run in order to help strengthen their legs. The article also said that the players asked for the weights (squat machine, specifically) to be brought back into their training regimen.

I don’t have a link, but go to NYPost.com or NYDailyNews.com

On a side note, Cashman should keep his job. He is the one who’s been keeping Papa George from spending money on old players instead of developing from within. Cashman lives!

Whatever, Pat36! LOL! :slight_smile:

Classic case of if it aint broke don’t fix it. I have been extremely interested in this running subplot all year due to being a yankee die hard and a fitness enthusiast. There were grumblings during spring training that this guy and his methods were being resisted by nearly everybody, the biggest being the no running to strengthen your legs(key to a pitcher’s success)

Also within various articles about this story(jon heyman of si.com has good insight) about how many of the stars(like jeter and arod) stuck to their original trainers and methods.

Basically they brought in this new guy, no one listened becasue they felt his methods were suspect and now the season is in jeopardy.

D’oh

There was an article on here a few weeks ago about a training seminar where they had football trainers using machines and less deadlifts. People on here went crazy, screaming the usual SQUATS are king, HIIT is where its at, running endurance style and machines are useless. This is a prime example of how this type of thinking can hamper an athlete.

[quote]Airtruth wrote:
There was an article on here a few weeks ago about a training seminar where they had football trainers using machines and less deadlifts. People on here went crazy, screaming the usual SQUATS are king, HIIT is where its at, running endurance style and machines are useless. This is a prime example of how this type of thinking can hamper an athlete.

[/quote]

I agree. Many on this site have a strong push to change everything.

Don’t static stretch, do dynamic mobility.

Don’t use a machine, use free weights.

Don’t do steady state cardo, do HIIT.

Don’t curl, do chin ups.

All of these things have a place in training.

Baseball players need to train differently than powerlifters.

Football players need to train differently than bodybuilders.

Many similarities but many differences.

Bump. Just hoping someone who knows more sees this…