In recent weeks, I’ve been in touch with a few Phillies prospects to inquire about how they try to maintain their baseball acumen during the long, drawn-out off-season. The players that have taken time to go over their training routines and autumn/winter schedule include first baseman Jim Murphy, outfielder Brian Gump and righty pitcher Tyler Knigge (pronounced Kuh-NIG-ee).
Leading off is the most popular player in Lakewood BlueClaws history Jim Murphy. A 17th round draft selection by the Phillies in 2008, the Washington state native has played as high as Class A Advanced Clearwater and has posted a .265 with 47 homeruns and 217 RBI in 420 regular season games during his four years as a professional.
The slugging first baseman injured his left hand in the final week of the regular season and has been rehabbing the injury following surgery. I spoke with Jim about his recovery, his training, helping out with local youth clinics and more. Read ahead to see what he had to say.
PhilliesNation: I just wanted to check and see how the off-season has been going for you. How has recovery been and how are you staying in shape?
Jim Murphy: This off-season was a little different after my hand injury. I was in a splint for a month and then did rehab for a month after a broken hamate bone suffered on August 30th. I finished rehab on November 3rd and made a full recovery with no post-op injuries.
Usually, I will take two weeks off from lifting and running after a season to recover and about two months off from hitting. This year I was forced to take two months off from hitting, so now that December has rolled around, I’m hitting 2-4 times a week and after January it will be more like 4-6 times a week until Spring.
I like to do Cross-Fit for strength training because it is so functional with Olympic lifts for strength. It has a combination that I haven’t found anywhere else. I couple that with both distance and sprint workouts to get ready for Spring.
PN: I know you took part in some clinics in Lakewood recently, where you got to work with children on their baseball skills. Do you think coaching is in your future and do the clinics help you prepare for that?
Gump, a lefty hitting 24-year-old, has posted a .239 batting average with 9 homeruns and 52 RBI in 178 games during his 3 seasons in the Philadelphia developmental ranks. Brian, who has played all three outfield positions during his professional career, was a 26th round draft selection in 2009. The UC Santa Barbara graduate should be expected to play with Double-A Reading in 2012.
PN: What is your training regimen like during the fall and winter months?
Brian Gump: Well, I try and tweak my off-season training a little bit every year. This year, I grew a mustache and it seems to be working quite well.
Seriously though, I recently saw a quote, by Bill Clinton of all people, that sums up the way I approach my training. “The price of doing the same old thing is far higher than the price of change”.
I try and constantly evolve and tweak what I am doing. This year I have started training with a few of my college teammates that are doing very well with the Rockies right now. They invited me out to do what we call “sand training”. After I almost threw up several times on my first day, I knew it was for me. Basically, we run 3 days a week, on sand, with our trainer who sets up different exercises like pulling a 50-pound sled through the sand, running short agility’s, various jumps and sprints with weight vests on. It’s intense, both physically and mentally. The sand is great because it is so low impact so it really limits the wear and tear on my body, while giving me great resistance at the same time.
On top of the sand training, I lift 4 times a week. This year I decided to not worry as much about putting on body weight and have decided to shift my focus to really building a lot of strength. Years past, I was obviously weight training, but I feel like I had plateaued and was just training to be in great condition and not as much to be stronger than the year before.
PN: How much time do you take off from hitting? Anything new added to the plan this year versus other years?
BG: I don’t like to take too much time off from hitting for several reasons, but mostly because I genuinely enjoy hitting and want to work on one thing or another. This might be counter productive, but it’s who I am and it’s tough to fight it. I think I started hitting very casually, like 1 or 2 times a week, around the start of November. Now we are getting to the time where the hitting and throwing start to slowly ramp up in frequency.
I have made a few small changes, hitting wise. Hendu (roving hitting instructor Steve Henderson) and I had been working for a good part of the year on getting me to finish lower to help me stay through the ball. I had trouble staying consistent with it, but when I was doing a good job with it, things were great and when I wasn’t, it showed too. So I have been working hard at getting really consistent with that lower finish, because I got a glimpse of what it can do for me at the plate when I do.
Also, I have tried tweaking my grip and moving the bat into my fingers and relaxing my hands more. Its amazing the difference something so small like that can make in your bat speed and swing.
The 6-foot-2-inch 215-pound Knigge, who sports a fastball that regularly registered around 94 MPH during the 2011 season, posted a 4-3 record with a 3.32 ERA while striking out 54 batters in 65 innings last season with the Class A Lakewood BlueClaws. Knigge was a 12th round pick in the 2010 draft.
PN: How have you been using your down time to stay active and avoid getting rusty?
Tyler Knigge: The off-season is great. My day to day routine goes something like this…I wake up at five and I go workout (lift for an hour), go home, shower and get ready for work. Be at work by 8 a.m. and work till 5 p.m. After work I go home and change and head to the gym for my 3 mile run. I then head home. Shower again and then start winding down for the night.
I started training October 12th. Took some time off from throwing too, but I’m back at it. Gonna be ready for spring training.
PN: So, you mentioned that you’re working during the fall and winter months. Some players hold down employment outside of the game, others don’t. What can you tell me about the job you have when baseball is not in season?
TK: Yeah, I work a job in the off-season. I work for “Goodwill Industries.” I am a Participant Advisor. A long story short- I help people find jobs that have been laid off or are just having a hard time in life. I help them find jobs and help them become more marketable by setting up workshops to help them do things like build their resume, fill out applications, etc.
Jay Floyd is PhilliesNation’s minor league insider. You can read more from Jay by visiting his site, PhoulBallz.com.