Walker, Hinske carry lighter load

Colorado's Larry Walker and Toronto's Eric Hinske, showed up to spring training in much better shape.

Updated: February 20, 2004, 10:28 AM ET
By Jim Baker | MLB Insider
Wouldn't it be great to be able to take off five months and focus your energy on getting in shape? Then, when the five months was up, you could come back to your job and be more productive and probably make more money. Would that be sweet or what?

Larry Walker was not the same player last season.
For most of us, that's a pipe dream, but for baseball players who have laid on a little too much suet, it's an opportunity they are afforded each and every autumn. Two players who took advantage of the unique schedule their job provides were in the news today for showing up to spring training in much better shape than they were last year. Troy E. Renck of the Denver Post and Tracy Ringolsby of the Rocky Mountain News write that Larry Walker of the Rockies was pretty unhappy with himself by the end of last year and decided to do something about it this offseason. In the Blue Jays camp in Dunedin, Florida, third baseman Eric Hinske showed up about 15 pounds lighter, reports Richard Griffin of the Toronto Star.

Both players had compelling reasons for trimming down. Hinske had 136 fewer plate appearances than he did in his rookie year of 2002 in a season marred by injury and lowered production. Of his 2003 condition, he told Griffin, "It affects my defense the most when I have a little weight on. I don't move as well. I don't have as much range at third. And running, too, I'm a step slower."

Jim Baker is an author at Baseball Prospectus and a frequent contributor to Page 2. You can e-mail Jim at bottlebat@gmail.com.

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