TORONTO — On Saturday, Vladimir Guerrero Jr. dominated the Blue Jays news cycle with what seemed like a shocking admission.
According to Sportsnet’s Arash Madani, the slugger indicated that he’d never lifted weights before, a rather stunning comment considering both his status as a professional athlete and the raw strength he’s already demonstrated in his young career.
Now, Guerrero Jr. is insisting his words were misconstrued. The 20-year-old met with the media in the Blue Jays dugout prior to their matchup with the Orioles on Monday to set the record straight.
"First of all I just want to clarify what was said the other day,” he said, beginning with an opening statement. “It was misunderstood. It was written the wrong way. What I was trying to say was in the offseason in the Dominican [Republic] I never lifted weights before."
It’s not hard to imagine wires getting crossed due to language barrier between the majority of the media and the Spanish-speaking Guerrero Jr., and frankly his revised statement makes more sense. There’s no way the Blue Jays wouldn’t have a training regime for Vladdy during the season and spring training — and the rookie indicated that he’d been lifting all year.
It’s also not as if he doesn’t do anything when he’s home during the offseason. Just last year some videos of his workouts made the rounds in Blue Jays circles:
"I do a lot of flipping tires, a lot of conditioning, throwing, hitting, running,” he said through a translator. “Weights, never — in the Dominican. Here, yes.”
Even though the clarification exonerates Guerrero Jr. to some extent, he knows there’s more work to be done. The rookie is looking to change his diet plan and improve his workouts when he goes back home in the winter. He willingly acknowledges he needs to be stronger in his sophomore year, to avoid wearing down the way he has down the stretch this season.
"Right now for example I don't feel 100 percent,” he says. “I'm a little tired right now."
Guerrero Jr.’s statistics jell with the idea he’s not firing on all cylinders. The slugger has managed a line of just .250/.290/.328 in September entering Monday’s action without a home run. The way manager Charlie Montoyo sees it, the difficulty he’s encountering represents an important learning opportunity.
“That’s a good thing for all these kids. They’re playing for the first time in September and they need to adjust on their own. You can tell them anything, but the only way to learn is going through it as a player... Nobody’s 100 percent now. There’s not one player in baseball who’s 100 percent.”
Multiple times in his availability, Vladdy stated the goal of playing 162 games in 2020, and it’s probably safe to say there’s work to be done before he can reach that goal. The rookie is hitting a bit of a wall now and he’s been rested liberally throughout the season.
However, it’s also safe to say concern that he was totally unfamiliar with working out can be put to rest.
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