I remember back in the day reading the Eagles website at the start of training camp. Dave Spadaro wrote about guys like Mark Simoneau and Sean Considine coming to Lehigh bulked up, adding 10 pounds of muscle.
My reaction went something like:
Hell yeah! They’re not going to get truck-sticked this year. Nope. SUPER BOWL, BABY!
The hype, as it turned out, was not real. The added muscle didn’t help — Simoneau was good for about 10 minutes and Considine was a below average safety before transitioning to a quality special teams guy.
The point is, it’s easy to fall into the best shape of my life trap during best shape of my life season — which occurs at the start of every NBA, MLB, NHL and NFL camp.
I mention this because the inevitable storyline came up during yesterday’s media sessions from Clearwater.
Rhys Hoskins, who appears on track for Opening Day, noted the physical difference of teammate Scott Kingery.
“I think he identified pretty early in the offseason that he maybe was a little bit too big last year and lost some mobility,” Hoskins said. “So to be able to identify that early and then having a whole offseason to make sure that he feels the way he needs to feel — to play the way we have all seen him play.”
Kingery, who noticeably bulked up last year, disappointed during a shortened season in which he hit just .159 with a .511 OPS. After arriving to the team’s summer camp late because of COVID-19, he dealt with both back and shoulder issues.
Kingery’s struggles cost him long-coveted stability as the team’s everyday second baseman. This spring, he comes to Clearwater without a starting role, though he will compete for the majority of playing time in center field.
Phillies manager Joe Girardi, who told reporters the team didn’t suggest a change to Kingery’s body type, noted the obvious difference in his physique.
“Definitely leaner. Probably 12 to 15 pounds – he looks great. Much leaner and we think it’s going to help him. And he likes it too. He just feels better. I think that’s what young players go through. They try to find what their optimum weight is.”
The hope for both Kingery and the team is that the diminished weight will serve as a precursor to a change in approach that gets the 26-year-old back to the player the Phillies saw when they handed him a six-year, $24 million deal before the 2018 season.
At the time of the deal, Kingery was dazzling in Clearwater to the tune of a .411/.441/.786 Grapefruit League slash line. That eye-opening effort came fresh off the heels of a 2017 minor league season in which he totaled 63 extra-base hits.
The takeaway here?
We’ll see. If Kingery deemphasizes a lift-first mentality by adding more athleticism to his swing, and, in turn, utilizes more of a gap-to-gap approach, he could be in line for a nice rebound. There’s still a talented young player in there, one who seemingly remains capable of putting it all together.
As the team begins full squad workouts this week, you’re allowed to dream on a Kingery rebound. Just proceed with caution during best shape of my life season.