Hitting an inside-the-park home run isn’t necessarily something baseball players train for during the off-season. If anything, it’s a stroke of luck just to have the chance to round the bases and score on a quadruple-bagger.
But you know what they say: luck is when opportunity meets preparation.
File Arizona Diamondbacks 3B Ryan Roberts’ inside-the-park home run against the Seattle Mariners on Wednesday, June 20, in that category. Roberts’ run of luck started with a deep drive to right-center field. The ball hit the lower part of the wall and rolled all the way into a deserted left-center field. By the time Mariners CF Michael Saunders caught up with it, Roberts was rounding third base and heading for home. The “Tatman” slid headfirst, well ahead of the off-target throw.
“I was just trying to run hard until somebody told me to stop,” Roberts said after the game. “I’m glad I didn’t fall over when I was running the bases. A couple of times I almost tripped because my body was leaning forward and my legs weren’t catching up.
“It was exhausting, to say the least.”
Roberts covered all four bases in 15.93 seconds, according to the 2012 Tater Trot Tracker Leaders, a comprehensive site that records how long it takes players to round the bases after a home run.
The look on Roberts’ face as he dashed down the third-base line was much like the expression he wore while performing an exercise on the Slide Board during his lower-body circuit training this past off-season.
The Slide Board and the Walking Lunge are two exercises Roberts performs for time.
“It works on explosion,” Roberts says of the Slide Board. “It’s like running a sprint—I’m very out of breath—and my legs are burning from constantly being in a Squat and from pushing on the inside and outside of my calves.”
The Tatman works the Slide Board for 30 seconds, almost double the time it took him to leg out his inside-the-park homer. He follows with the Walking Lunge—an exercise that helps improve lower-body power with a position similar to his running form—performed for a fatiguing two minutes.
This lower-body circuit may not directly aim to improve Roberts’ inside-the-park home run hitting ability, but it certainly played a part in enabling the Tatman to keep a strong and stable core and zip around the bases without losing steam.
Watch more of Roberts’ lower-body workout.