The Hustle Behind the Muscle: A conversation with Perry Castellano, Twins Strength and Conditioning Coordinator
In recent weeks, I’ve been putting together a September piece on Twins Strength and Conditioning Coordinator Perry Castellano for the Gameday magazine sold outside the Dome before ballgames. Mr. Castellano has held this post since last season, after working 5 years as the club’s Minor League Strength and Conditioning Coordinator. Concurrent to our Gameday interview, Mr. Castellano saw fit (my puns are terrible after a night of gin) to answer a few inquiries for this space as well. In addition, he’s provided herein the “In-Season Workouts for Twins Starting Pitchers.” To read a portion of our verbal workout, and to find out if you’re Slowey enough to exercise at an MLB-level, please continue onward:
Judd Spicer: Is pro baseball the toughest sport to play physically?
Perry Castellano: Without a doubt. Just take a look at the six months of the season. We have about 18 days off. My position players play every day. At max velocity. You don’t play everyday in football. The other sports, basketball, hockey, you get 82 games and a day off every once in a while. Baseball, you have to be prepared everyday, to be as close to 100% as you can. Guys still work out, then go home and play catch with their kids.
J.S.: Which of the positions has to work the hardest off the field during the season?
P.C.: Your five starting pitchers (see: “In-Season Workouts for Twins Starting Pitchers” below). Their work ethic has to put them in a position where they can give you 200-plus innings a year. Pitchers have to put in a work ethic that doesn’t just involve the gym, but also throwing bullpen sessions, running, and other activities in addition to weight work. Look at Livan. Here’s a guy with about 2,500 innings pitched in 12, 13 major league seasons. That shows longevity, endurance. Their routines are different from just about everybody else’s. Pitchers average about 20,000 thrown balls per season.
J.S.: I read an entertaining Jim Souhan article a few months back about Cuddyer trying out some new mouthpiece that aims to increase range of motion. How that working out for him?
P.C.: It’s good for Cuddy. He doesn’t chew seeds now. He doesn’t have all that sodium in his body.
J.S.: I imagine that you’re also hit-up by a great many salespeople pitching you vitamin supplements and related-products. How do you sort out what's acceptable, and what’s untoward?
P.C.: They have to be NSF, International certified. Only 40 products from 10 companies are listed on their site, as “Certified for Sport.” If they’re not listed there, I can’t even talk to those companies.
J.S.: Who’s the most powerful Twin you’ve encountered in your time with the organization?
P.C.: It’s tough to say as they all have different forms. We talk about ‘power’ as a recruitment process -- how much power can be generated for a single event. Johan Santana, by looking at him, might not be considered a ‘powerful’ guy. But if you ever had a chance to see the size of his left shoulder, you’d know what I was talking about. Morneau would have to be up there. Cuddy, too. Torii Hunter was powerful. I take a look at the way that Carlos Gomez is able to explode out of the box. That’s his power level. Denard Span: his power comes when he’s moving. It’s hard to pinpoint because they’re all so unique in their own qualities of power.
J.S.: How much time do you spend at the ballpark?
P.C.: About 10 or 11 hours a day. For players, they do about 8 ½ hour days.
IN SEASON WORKOUTS
Perry Castellano CSCS - R
Strength & Conditioning Coordinator
STARTING PITCHER: Starters have the most clear, cut strength and conditioning programs due to the fact they know exactly when they will be used. Day 1 and Day 2, the workouts will be higher intensity. Goal is to use the 4 days between starts to rest, rebuild and prepare for the next outing. Because no 2 pitchers will have the same workout on the same day, they are required to work more independently than both the position players and relief pitchers.
**Weights and Cords are Daily Activities**
PRE GAME: very important that the pitcher engages in some type of stretch and activity to increase body temperature and loosen up. Ideally performed approx. 30 minutes before game. Pitcher should break a sweat prior to the start of throwing. Player chooses activity.
GAME: make sure the pitcher is drinking water between each inning and
a cup of sports drink every 20 minutes or so. For long innings of sitting, recommend that he get up and move around to prevent pooling.
POST GAME: cool down activity is important to initiate the rest and rebuilding process. Cool down should last 10-15 minutes. Pitcher’s HR should not climb higher than 100 bpm. Bike, Slide board and shoulder tubing are popular cool down activities.
*DAY 1: Lower Body Strength
Med Ball Walks (with or w/o ball)
20-30 min run
Hurdles at Home
*DAY 2: Bull Pen (power day)
Upper Body Strength
Contrast Poles (8) or Jog Run Sprint(8)
*DAY 3: Touch Feel Bull Pen
Lower Body Circuit
Ladder Runs (4)
*DAY 4: Med Ball Abs,
*DAY 5 GAME DAY: Pitch (AFTER GAME -Slide Board, Bike or Poles)
*Above program is a recommended guide. Starters may tweak the program to better fit their needs.