By Mike Stainkamp
LI natives stay loyal to roots preparing for Spring Training
Baseball players have always been considered the “Boys of Summer.” But what happens when the final out of the World Series is recorded and the offseason begins?
For two Mets prospects and Long Island natives, Camden Maron and Steven Matz, the offseason means coming back to Long Island and making the most out of their offseason training program with some of the best trainers in the North East.
“I do my offseason strength and conditioning training at Professional Athletic Performance Center (PAPC) in Garden City under the instruction of head strength coach Dean Maddalone,” Maron said. “All of my baseball specific training is done at Performance Factory in Farmingdale under the instruction of head hitting instructor Joe Francisco.”
Maron, who is coming off a 2012 season that saw him win the Mets’ Sterling Award as the top performer with Kingsport, is looking to improve on a solid campaign.
Maron is looking to break camp with High-A St. Lucie this year, after spending last season with Class-A Savannah. He was promoted for the playoffs to St. Lucie and has his sights on returning to the Florida State League.
“I also trained at PAPC,” Matz added. “I’d workout three times a week, also throwing indoors one day during the weekend. I felt it was a great offseason and feel a lot stronger and ready to go for this up coming season.”
Matz is coming off a 2012 season that saw him shut down due to shoulder soreness. He spent time unofficially with the Instructional League and was rehabbing in St. Lucie back in September.
Injuries have derailed this Ward Melville HS grad, but he’s looking to light up the radar gun once again. During his time in the Appalachian League, he consistently hid mid-90s with his fastball, reaching as high as 98. He finished with a 1.55 ERA and 34 strikeouts in 29 innings.
Offseason training in NY is no easy task
One of the challenges with training in the North East during the offseason is the lack of warm weather, which makes it very hard for baseball players to train outdoors. Other regions of the country allow players to train outdoors throughout out the offseason, possibly giving them an edge heading into Spring Training.
“Spending part of the year in the northeast, especially the offseason, requires a lot self-motivation and a good work ethic,” Maron said. “There are a lot of obstacles that are present in the North East that are not present in other parts of the country. Do not let anyone tell you that you can’t make it because of where you come from. Just find the right situation and work your tail off and everything else will take care of itself.”
Maron and Matz were part of a group of players who trained at PAPC in the offseason.
“We have a pretty good group of guys over at PAPC and we really push each other. It’s really a great workout environment to be in,” Maron said. “I would never want to train anywhere else. Our group included Major Leaguers Jose Reyes (Toronto Blue Jays), Ruben Tejada, Pedro Beato (Boston Red Sox), and Adam Ottavino (Colorado Rockies). Minor Leaguers in our group included Steve Matz (Mets), Zach Dotson (Mets), Keith Couch (Red Sox), and Willie Carmona (Philadelphia Phillies). The baseball specific training at Performance Factory is all one-on-one with Joe Francisco, which really allows me to focus on certain smaller points of my swing.”
Words of wisdom from Maron and Matz
Both players emphasized getting involved with a camp that pushes the players to work hard.
“The best advice I can give to any player looking to make it to the next level is always work hard,” Maron said. “If you work hard and put yourself in the right environment, with the right trainers and specialists, and the right teammates, you can make it anywhere. Spending part of the year in the North East, especially the offseason, requires a lot self-motivation and a good work ethic. There are a lot of obstacles that are present in the northeast that are not present in other parts of the country. Do not let anyone tell you that you can’t make it because of where you come from. Just find the right situation and work your tail off and everything else will take care of itself.”
Matz added: “To all my fellow North East baseball players trying to make it to the next level, find a good place to workout during the offseason where you can lift, run and throw so you don’t miss a beat by the time you’re ready to get outside and play.”
This Fan Shot was contributed by Mike Stainkamp. Have something you want to say about the Mets? Share your opinions with over 15 thousand Mets fans who read this site daily. Send your Fan Shot to GetMetsmerized@aol.com. Or ask us about becoming a regular contributor.