Curtis Granderson knew he had to make an impact when he crossed the Robert F. Kennedy Bridge from the Bronx to Queens and left the Yankees for the Mets. Very high expectations were placed upon him, despite his coming off an injury-riddled season (his right forearm was broken by a pitch during spring training, and his left hand was broken by another pitch soon after he returned). He knew he was expected to bring a big bat—he had belted 43 home runs in his last full season with the Yankees—so he adjusted his off-season training accordingly.
"I started my off-season batting practice a lot earlier," Granderson told STACK at a New Era pre-season event. "I actually had one of the big league batting practice coaches from the Chicago White Sox, who lives in the Chicagoland area [work with me.] He was able to throw a lot, which gave me the chance to get the timing and the rhythm down a lot earlier than I normally would have. That was definitely a plus."
Granderson also focused on conditioning, to ensure that his body was ready for the grind of another full season. The frigid winters in Chicago, where he resides during the off-season, prevented him from doing much training outdoors, so he did his work in the gym.
"I was still able to adapt and get as much work done as I could inside," he said. "I added swimming to my off-season training, and other cardio, strength, and conditioning work to help with my range."
Swimming was especially challenging for Granderson, who had never used a pool for anything but recreation. This past off-season, he swam for 30 minutes four days a week before he stepped into the weight room. "The physical challenge of swimming was rough," he said. "I just can't get that rhythm to flow and go."
But Granderson stressed that his training was designed to help him do whatever the Mets needed from him on the offensive side of the ball. "The biggest thing is adaptation," he said. " Is there someone on base? Drive him in. No one on base? Get on base. [I want to] keep the lineup loose, relaxed, happy, but also focused on the task at hand."
Although the Mets are battling this season (their record was 42-50 as this was written), Granderson has delivered the versatility for which he trained. Approaching the All-Star break, he has hit 14 homers and batted in 42 runs.
Part of his success is based on his experience. This season is his 10th in the majors.
For Granderson, the game has changed significantly since he entered the league. "There is a lot I know now that I had no clue about," he said. "Now, it's about understanding the ins and outs—knowing why different moves are made, knowing how to use your entire body during a swing, knowing how to steal. Things like that I've had to learn over the years."
Granderson has also learned to be patient. The season before he arrived in Detroit, the Tigers had posted one of the worst records in MLB history, finishing the season at 43-119. Three years later, they reached the World Series. "[The situation I'm in with the Mets] is almost like a mirror image of what it was like when I was with the Detroit Tigers," Granderson says. "We have a youthful team that has won in the minor leagues that has now made it up to the major leagues. We have some experienced guys [too.] You put it together and it's very similar to what I had a chance to go through back in 2006. Who knows what the future is going to hold—it's all optimism here."
If Granderson's history is any indication, the future should hold good things.
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