Nathan alters offseason workouts, looks for better start
The Tigers’ Winter Caravan ritual of putting players in regular jobs while interacting with fans brought them to Buffalo Wild Wings in Rochester Hills, where Nick Castellanos and Joe Nathan were waiting on tables and delivering orders to customers during the lunch hour. That, of course, led to the inevitable punchline — echoed by many on twitter — that Nathan was better at the lunch shift since he had so many struggles closing last year.
Nathan gets it. He also gets that he goes into Spring Training with something to prove.
“Absolutely,” he said. “I don’t want people thinking that I’m done. I think coming into not just the spring, but coming into the season, I want to prove to myself and other people I still have something left in the tank.”
He went into the offseason, he said, with that in mind. He says he felt better near the end of the season than he did at the beginning. What he wanted to do was find a way to feel that way when this season begins.
“I want to get off to a quicker start,” Nathan said. “I think if we can get off to a good start and really kind of set the tone, it can help — not just myself individually, but it can help this club to have confidence and hopefully put in the minds of other teams that we’re not going away. This team is still here to play. Hopefully as a team and individually, we can get off to a quicker start, so that’s why I’m trying to prepare myself as well as I can and get as close to game ready as I can by the start of Spring Training.”
The answer wasn more than arm strengthening. He wanted to feel stronger, but he also wanted to feel more agile, more limber. The result was a little different approach for a 40-year-old.
“It’s almost like I’m going back to the younger days as far as agility-type stuff and seeing if we can get some more in my legs, keep my spring in my legs, as opposed to just doing squats and squats and squats,” he said. “It feels like they get kind of stuck. They’re strong, but they can’t move. So I wanted to be able to move more, so he’s incorporating more stuff there.”
He brought it up to his trainer, who adjusted his workout plan. It was a strong enough plan that it was challenging without him dreading it.
“As you get to this age,” Nathan said, “I think the question isn’t, “Can I make it through the season?’ It’s, ‘Can I get myself prepared for the season?’ You always hear the guys that retire say it just got too hard to prepare. So I came into this offseason really focused on trying to pay attention to my body and pay attention to what I need. And fortunately, it’s going unbelievable.
“I’ve gotten stronger than I’ve ever felt. I feel like I’m pushing more weight around than I ever have. Everything as far what my trainer’s done has gotten better and better. My range of motion has gotten better. We’ve done more agility-type stuff to keep my body young.
“I’m excited about how my body feels. The way I’ve been throwing now, I’m on pace, long-tossing at the distance I want to be at. I’m not going to go any further than what I’m at now, 80-85 yards. Just keep it there and come February get [on] the mound, start working on some stuff there.”
Arm strength, he said, will be his spring focus. He’ll work on specific pitches, like breaking balls, later in camp.
“I actually started the offseason throwing a football,” he said, “did that for a little while, and then put a baseball in my hand.”