The No Hitter
Written on September 10, 2007 at 8:34 am, by Eric Cressey
On Saturday night, my girlfriend and I finished setting up our new television – only to turn it on for the first time and see Clay Buchholz toss a no-hitter for the Boston Red Sox against the Baltimore Orioles. Like everyone, I was very impressed with his ability to change speeds effectively with his pitches and get ahead in the counts all night. I’m more impressed, however, with the overall athleticism that has helped him get to where he is so quickly.
In multiple telecasts, Red Sox commentators have noted that he’s the fastest guy in the organization. Yes, that’s even faster the stud center field prospect Jacoby Ellsbury (Had David Wells still been with the Sox, I’m sure he would have won that race, for the record). It’s speculated that while Buchholz was taken as a pitcher in the first round of the draft, he could have been selected in the fifth round as a hitter as well.
Pitching and sprinting: two athletic endeavors that – to the casual observer to exercise physiology – are loosely related at best. I however, am of the belief that you need to become a better athlete before you become a better pitcher, basketball player, tennis player, or even a bowler. There are right and wrong ways to move – and if you have general dysfunction, it’s going to carry over to specific movements.
If you are efficient in a general sense, on the other hand, that efficiency will carry over to sporting movements provided that you practice them (delayed transformation, as per Vladimir Zatsiorsky’s writings). Toss in a pitching coach, knowledge of the game, the right psychological profile, some favorable biomechanics, and get a catcher that calls a great game (kudos to Jason Varitek), and you must just have the youngest guy to throw a no-hitter in Red Sox history.
Interestingly, in an interview at SoxProspects.com, when asked about his off-season training regime from last year, Buchholz responded:
“First of all I lived in Dallas with a couple of other guys that also play ball, and we all worked out together. So we all had a little advice for each other. My main goal this off-season was to be in shape and have gained weight. I gained just about 12 lbs and I was in pretty good shape. I have lived in Dallas the last two off seasons and the clear focus was to get stronger and go to camp in great shape so I could show the front office I was committed to getting to the big leagues. The schedule I have been on has been very successful and I don’t expect that to change. So I would say that the off-season was a success.”
Buchholz also commented: “I think my athleticism shows up as a pitcher in my ability to change on the go, make adjustments quickly, and certainly in my ability to cover the bunt in both directions.”
Get efficient, improve multiple strength qualities, and in the case of an absolute power sport position (i.e., pitcher), slap on some muscle mass. Not exactly rocket science, is it?