Via TSN -
Almost as surprising as the season-long, greater-than-expected contributions from [Raul] Ibanez and [Eric] Chavez is the fact that they are among the rare Yankees who have stayed healthy.
Besides a stint on the seven-day DL because of a concussion, Chavez pretty much has avoided the back, shoulder, knee and neck pains that had derailed his career. Injuries didn’t slow Ibanez in his three seasons with the Philadelphia Phillies, but age seemed to be taking its toll. He endured one of the toughest seasons of his career in 2011, when he hit .245/.289/.419 in 144 games.
Both players say a key part of their success this season is what they have been putting in their bodies. Hold on. I know what many of you are thinking. But these two never have tested positive for Melky Cabrera’s favorite shortcut or any other performance-enhancing drug. Ibanez and Chavez insist their health is based on special diets designed just for them.
We’re not talking about the typical no fast-food, no red-meat plan. We’re talking high-tech nutrition where you are tested to see what foods work and what foods don’t work for you. If you don’t have the resources to employ your own nutritionist, you can approximate their diets by sticking to the plan of “If you can’t hunt it, fish for it, pick it or pull it, don’t eat it.”
Ibanez has been eating this way since shortly before he reported to the Phillies in spring training 2009. With camp approaching, Ibanez says he still was feeling a lot of pain from an offseason sports hernia surgery. So he found a nutritionist, changed his eating ways and says, “A week to 10 days later, the pain was gone.”
He hasn’t suffered a reported injury since and says when he feels general soreness, he can attribute it to something he has eaten. When Ibanez reported to Yankees camp, Chavez came looking for his secret.
“I talked with Raul and told him my body is in pain all the time,” Chavez says. “But, man, you’re in great shape and have stayed pretty healthy over your career. What are you doing?”
Both players come across as a tad extreme about the benefits of what Ibanez says is basically a “Paleolithic” plan. After all, peanut butter and jelly sandwiches haven’t seemed to hurt Derek Jeter after all these years.
In a time when baseball still can’t escape from the steroids shadow, I wasn’t quite sure what to think when hearing two veterans go on about the virtues of organic eating.
The baseball world has been burned so often by cheaters that suspicions have become part of following the game. On the other hand, if Chavez wanted to try PEDs to get him healthy, he had no shortage of injuries to come back from during his Oakland A’s career. I might be naïve, but I’m buying the clean-living tales.
“One diet doesn’t work for everybody,” Ibanez says. “Everybody’s chemistry is different. Everybody’s body is different. Once you test what is good for you personally, what is not good for you personally, you can adapt. I had been told that high fiber, whole grains, are good for lowering cholesterol. I have a gluten allergy so that wasn’t helping me at all. It was making it worse.”
Cutting out wheat and dairy isn’t easy but Chavez, six months in, says “It’s been worth it. I can see the results. I’m not as moody. Even my sleeping patterns have changed. It’s helped me out with more than just baseball.”
Having made a such a change myself back in June of 2006, and sticking with it since that time, I fully understand how this works for these two players. And, I suspect that these two are not the only pro ball players to adopt this diet.