The season’s over, but I’ve got work to do. I’m different. I’m big on having my body ready. Playing center field, especially at my age, I have to make sure I can go out there and just run around like crazy for nine innings. The first two weeks after the season ends, I’ll eat nothing but raw vegetables. I do a detox and cleanse my whole body. Do steam showers every day. I do epsom salt baths for six minutes every night, just to draw out everything. Once a week, I’ll do dead lifts, as heavy as possible, probably like 415 pounds, one rep, six sets of that.
I don’t shut down. There’s no such thing to me. I feel if you shut down, then you have to rev back up. I don’t want to start back up further down from where I started. After a two-week span, I start doing my lifting, about the middle of October, and start getting into it slowly. In November, it’s more getting my core strength and flexibility back along with my lifts and I’ll do a lot of kettlebell stuff, kettlebell movements. In December, I start boxing and get my sprinting in and go a little heavier and start work on getting my strength up. That’s when I start doing my traveling and go to San Francisco to work with Victor Conte and his group. I go down to Florida and work with my trainer there, Terrence Thomas — I’ve been with him seven years, going on eight years now.
I have to talk to Rudy about when I should come out and start hitting. Usually I start hitting Jan. 1. This year I might start a little earlier and get a week with him sometime in December, probably right before the Christmas holidays.
In January, I ramp it up. January is full power moves and I do my heavy workouts and transfer it more into my in-season routine. I’m hitting, throwing, doing my boxing, doing my sprinting. That’s it, all day long.
Carlos, everything he’s done in Tampa, he knows how to win. We’ve bonded. We were the big dogs coming up through the Minor Leagues, got to the big leagues and scuffled a little bit. We went back and forth, Minor Leagues, big leagues, knowing we could play but we needed that one team to take that flyer on us. It was Texas with me, Tampa with Carlos. Carlos comes up, does what he does, signs that big deal in Tampa. We can feed off each other because at the same time, what we also have in common is Rudy. He was with Rudy in Texas before I was. Now we have that rapport, so we’re talking about getting his swing back to where it was. There’s a lot that goes through your head when you struggle. He struggled last year and still put up big numbers in the power category. You have to get that average back up, get that confidence back up. I had the same thing, hitting .220 in the Minor Leagues and going to Texas and working with Rudy and had to get that confidence and that feel. I knew I could hit. We started talking from day one — actually at the Cubs Convention, we started talking hitting right away. Then when we came in here the first day, we started going to the cage together, working on little things. I see things he’s doing now that I did when I first came to Texas. Having more than one eye — not just Rudy’s eye but my eye — and having that trust factor will help. He trusts me. When I see something, he says, “Hey, you’re right, I feel it.” All from that, we’re learning and feeding off each other as far as hitting. I get to feed off him as far as that winning mentality and everything he did in Tampa.
There are certain things that happen in the clubhouse. I can go to him and say, “What do you think? Do we need a meeting? Do we need a one on one?” We can go back and forth. That’s a good thing. We have all these veterans in here and we have a lot of help — Kerry Wood, Braden Looper, all those guys. Me and Carlos, being position players, he’s very vocal, just like I am. we can talk and make sure everything stays on the up and up with this team. Last year, you have your ups and downs, but you want to keep those very, very small and stay consistent. Now, we have that rapport and hopefully we can be part of leading this team in the clubhouse and on the field and carry us all the way into the playoffs.
He’s not tentative because he’s the new guy. You saw me last year when I came in here, sort of loud mouth in the beginning. Everyone was like, “Marlon talks too much.” At the end of the year, they were saying, “He talks for a reason.” Carlos, it’s the same thing. He’s talking for a reason. He’s not speaking out of turn, he’s not speaking just to talk. He’s speaking because he needs to. The time he’s put in the big leagues, the winning he’s done, the numbers he’s put up, everything, he’s earned the right for people to listen to him.
Everyone’s heard the names. Juan Gonzalez. Pudge Rodriguez. Rafael Palmeiro. Alex Rodriguez. Michael Young. Then you turn the page to Gary Matthews Jr., Mark DeRosa, Marlon Byrd, Nelson Cruz. One thing all those guys has in common is they’ve worked with Rudy and they have positive things to say.
With Gary Matthews and Nelson Cruz, we’re all big league players but we struggled in the big leagues. Opening Day, we were sitting at home. Gary Matthews went through that with me. Nelson Cruz went through that same thing, getting designated. Sticking with Rudy’s program, him believing in us, us believing in him, working hard every single day, getting in a routine, we got better. Hands down, he’s the best hitting coach in baseball and everybody knows that.
I also had to talk to Rudy and remind him that in 2007 when I came to Texas, the Rangers were a team nobody talked about. The energy wasn’t there. It was a team that just hit. It took a couple years to change the culture. You saw how they won in 2009 and you see how they are now in 2010 — full of energy. Everybody over there is doing their jobs.
I told Rudy coming over here, implementing your system, it doesn’t happen right away. That’s what the fans and everybody watching the Cubs has to understand. It doesn’t happen right away. Me working with him, it’s my fourth year. I know how to work with him and he knows how to work with me. He’s still learning everybody’s swing and he’s still trying to figure out how to work with different players and personalities. It doesn’t sound good to say it but 2011 is going to be a better year as far as this whole Cubs organization knowing his system. We are going to get better as we go through this year.