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MF Interview: Coco Crisp

The Oakland A’s centerfielder preps for his first healthy season in years.

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Talk about a dream job. As he entered the off-season, speedster Coco Crisp received some surprising instructions from Billy Beane and the rest of the Oakland A’s brass: gain weight! It might sound counter-intuitive for a leadoff man coming off a career high in stolen bases (32 in just 75 games), but it’s all part of a master plan meant to keep Crisp on the field and the catalyst for a resurgent A’s team with eyes on an AL West crown. We caught up with Coco to talk about how he prepared for 2011, the joys of In-N-Out Burger and taking BP with Charlie Sheen. Was there a certain part of your game you wanted to improve during the off-season? I focused on my total game for the most part. That’s the type of player I am—I have a little bit of speed and a little bit of pop. The whole shebang! I’ve been plagued by injuries since 2006, but this is the first time in a while where I’ve been healthy coming into the season. How has that helped you? I was able to get in good workouts like running the beach. I couldn’t do that last year because I had some shoulder surgeries and bouncing around affected me. But this year I was able to run the beach and work out at Athletes’ Performance, an institute that specializes in fast twitch muscles and muscle contusion. That really helped me out a lot. You boxed when you were younger. Has that helped on the field? It did. I think everything you do as a kid helps you, whether it’s playing Pickle in the front yard or doing something more extreme like boxing. Even playing video games helps with your hand-eye coordination and your thought process. I was a big gamer when I was younger and still am now. Really? Do you play baseball video games? Nowadays I don’t. One of the reasons is that they have me too dang slow in those games! They go by how many stolen bases you have and that’s not necessarily how fast you are. They should go off of clocking you down to first base. They’ve got other guys running 99 and I’m running 80 something. I was like this is outrageous! So I started creating myself. I hope you didn’t make yourself into a slugger. I made myself Barry Bonds! I had my power all the way up to 99, my speed to 99, my arm to 99—I was the best player in the game. [Laughs] As a speedy player, do you focus more on your legs and lower body? Well, that’s my bread and butter. I’m primarily looked at as a fast guy, but I have a little bit of pop too so I focus on strength as well. I tried to put on a more weight this off-season and get up around 190, whereas in the earlier days my playing weight was about 15 pounds lighter. So I’m doing that while trying to maintain speed. Do you stay on a strict diet in the off-season or can you afford to eat a little less healthy? It’s easy for me to get in shape or get cut up—my metabolism works really fast—so during the off-season I’ll eat worse. My team was telling me I had 5.6% body fat and they want me to put on more. You don’t want any pulled muscles, so you need some fat just to protect your muscles. You can’t pull fat; that’s what they say. So this off-season I’ve taken their instructions and it helped me put on an extra 10 pounds. I made it through spring training healthy so I guess it worked. What about during the season? During the season I eat healthy. I don’t cook so I have to go out to a restaurant and have my salad and my soup and my pasta and my fish and stuff like that. Then every now and then I’ll splurge with an In-N-Out burger, but that’s not that often. Is that what helped you gain weight? The thing that helps me put on weight the fastest is pizza. If I eat it I’ll gain weight. Then I have whey protein shakes, too. And what’s your workout regiment like? During the off-season I work out hard, five or six days a week, and I’m really focused. Then during the season I work out maybe two days a week. During the off-season I lift heavier but less weight, but during the year I lift light with more reps. So it’s a significant difference. The goal is to maintain because it’s a long season. I don’t want my routine to change to where my body feels sore. Is there a current or former teammate you admire from a fitness standpoint? Someone who was a real gym rat? Gabe Kapler is definitely a guy that was really into his physique and the way he builds his body. He’s probably my No. 1 on the list of guys who are dedicated to working out. You hung out with Charlie Sheen at a UCLA baseball practice recently. Can he play? It sounds like he was hitting the ball pretty well. He did really well. That was just when I started swinging this off-season, so he was hitting the ball better than me! He was hitting the ball to the warning track, but I don’t know if he popped one out there. But didn’t he use an aluminum bat? Yeah, he was using an aluminum bat. You’ve still got to hit it though!

 

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