Brett Myers talks to the Philadelphia media about his new contract.Myers Trim, Wallet Fat After New Pact
There was a time – not too long ago – when Brett Myers was a workout fiend. Before he had made the climb through the Phillies’ system to the big leagues, Myers would no sooner finish a workout before he’d start the whole process over again. In fact, during his early spring training days it wasn’t uncommon to see Myers in a darkened ballpark running lap after lap around the warning track and stands long after everyone had gone home.
Actually, Myers was downright arrogant about his training regime and the amount of time he put into it. Once, following a late-season start during his rookie campaign in 2002, Myers was asked when he planned on diving back into his off-season routine, the not-so big (at the time) right-hander responded with a dismissive, “two weeks.” When told that two weeks didn’t sound like a lot of time to allow his body to rest and heal after a long season of baseball, Myers curtly responded with, “That’s all I need.”
But somewhere between the 2003 season and the close of the 2006 season, Myers decided he didn’t need to work out much. Actually, from the clearly superficial view, it seemed as if Myers’ in-season exercise program occurred every five days when he took the mound. That’s not likely the case, but for a professional athlete to be listed modestly at 240 pounds (he admits to being 250 at the end of last season and over 260 at the end of the '05 season), something must have slipped through the cracks.
Maybe Myers was burned out from the sometimes tedious nature of day-in and day-out regimentation? Or maybe he was following the lead of Kevin Millwood and Jon Lieber – two big righties that Myers followed around like a lost puppy who didn’t exactly conjure images of the buff dudes on the early-morning workout shows.
Either way, for a kid who grew up as a boxer and around athletics, it was quite out of character for Myers to get away from what got him to the big leagues.
But things are a little different now… that is to say things are the same as they were. What got away from Myers has returned – maybe not with the ardor as before – and the righty is leaner, maybe meaner, and ready for another crack at the playoffs with the Phillies.
“The weight doesn't bother me when I pitch. I just felt that I owe it to myself and the guys in Spring Training this year to work a little bit harder,” the pitcher said, in town to meet the press after agreeing to a three-year, $26.75 million contract extension. “If we missed it by 12 games, then I need to lose 12 more pounds. I think everybody left last year with a bad taste in their mouths.”
Myers heads into camp next week at a more athletic 218 pounds, which, by his rationale means the Phillies should finish ahead of the pack by 20 games. Nevertheless, Myers said the difference this winter was watching what he ate, resisting his wife’s tempting offers of nachos and ice cream and getting on his program much earlier than usual.
“I started (working out) a little earlier this year and I haven’t been able to fit into this suit in two years now and I finally made my way back into it,” Myers said, sporting a figure-flattering single-breasted design. “I just kept working and the weight just kept coming off. I really had fun doing it and it didn’t get boring so I hope I can keep at it during the season.”
Be that as it may, Myers could be correct when he says that the excess weight didn’t bother him when he pitched. After all, he has been rather durable. He nearly pitched 200 innings last season even though he missed a bunch of starts stemming from his well-publicized arrest in Boston last June. Nor has Myers ever been injured… yet. Being back at his old fighting weight should only help in that regard.
Then there is the other stuff… off-the-field stuff that made many wonder if the Phillies and Myers would ever be in this position. Sometimes irascible with a reputation amongst teammates, coaches and media for being immature and difficult to work with, some have wondered if Myers was worth the trouble.
If Myers were any other pitcher, no one would have any concerns about the deal he just signed. In fact, most people probably don't have any trouble with it. The stats on the page speak for themselves. Per 162 games, Myers averages almost 207 innings, 166 strikeouts, and for the past two seasons his ERA was well below the league average. Somewhere, beneath all of that baggage, a 20-game winner lurks.
It seems as if Brett Myers' biggest problem is being Brett Myers. But since he's now closer to 30 than 20, maybe the years and experience will help. Hey, some people mature later than others, and there always seems to be certain types of behavior that the talented and gifted possess. Maybe Myers’ impudent behavior has been tempered by experience?
“I think every year as you get older you get a little more mature, but that’s just over time and being in this world and learning the people around you and who to trust,” he said. “Obviously, family is a big part of my life and if they weren’t there than none of this would be possible.”
So about that incident in Boston where Myers was arrested for allegedly punching his wife on a street corner after leaving a bar (charges were later dropped), which resulted in his leave of absence?
“Things are great,” Myers revealed. “I think what it came down to, we had trouble communicating. I'm gone half the time and when I'm home, I get home at midnight and everybody's in bed and I see you for an hour a day and it was one of those things where most of our communication is done by phone. I think it really benefitted us, not saying that the incident helped, but it was kind of an eye opener toward that. We just needed to talk a little more and be more supportive of each other.
“Coming from never being in trouble before to being in trouble, it's definitely a humbling experience. I'm probably more humbled by it than anything.”
Myers was also quick to point out how supportive the Phillies were in coming to the aid of him and his wife.
“They were (supportive) from the beginning,” Myers said. “I felt terrible for the organization and my family that it had to come about, and it did come about. It was one of those things where everybody makes mistakes and we learn from them. None of these mistakes can ever happen again.”
The support he heard from the fans in his return from his leave also weighed in his decision for wanting to stay in Philadelphia.
“Just you asking me about it is giving me goose bumps. I really appreciated that,” he said. “Hopefully the support can keep coming in because this team really needs it. I grew a lot of respect for the fans after that day.
“I like pitching here. I relate the fans to my dad when I was a kid. If I didn't play well, he was all over me. When the fans boo you, we already know we're not playing up to our capabilities. I kind of need that tough love sometimes.”
That’s something he’ll get plenty of for the next three seasons.Myers talked baseball, too
Brett Myers talked about a bunch of baseball-related topics during Tuesday’s press conference to announce his three-year, $26.75 contract extension. Did he think he would be traded after the Phillies acquired Freddy Garcia and Adam Eaton?
"No, because we didn't have contact with the Phillies. They didn't call us or anything like that. I was excited that we could add two more guys to our rotation, and at that point in time, I really wasn't concerned about it. Then we started negotiating and I started thinking about it a little bit."On general manager Pat Gillick's off-season visit with Myers in Jacksonville, Fla.:
"It was real cordial. It was fun. We watched the Jaguars game together and sat around and just talked about life. Nothing really about baseball came up. I think he was trying to appease me by rooting for the Jaguars – I wasn’t quite sure."On the Phillies as the team to beat in the NL East:
"Whatever Jimmy (Rollins) says I agree with.
"I think with the guys we had last year we kind of want to be that team that has that necessary arrogance about us that we should be the team even though we realized it late in the season. I think this year we know we can compete with the Mets and we know we can compete with the Braves, so we have pretty much the same guys as last year and we’ve played together for an extra year. I think it’s going to be a lot more fun for us this year competing against those teams when we know we can beat them."On Cole Hamels:
"It's going to be hard keeping up with Cole this year. Hopefully, everybody can stay healthy also. He's the young guy coming up. When I came up, I didn't really have anybody to talk to until we got Kevin Millwood, and he taught me as he could before he left. Since then, I feel like I need to take that role for Cole, and hopefully Freddy will. We're not left-handed... maybe Jamie Moyer will play a bigger factor for Hamels."On potentially being the opening-day starter:
There's so much emphasis on being the No. 1 starter and all it really means is that first game. My philosophy is, whoever starts [on any given] day is the ace.
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