Blue Jays: Vladimir Guerrero Jr. acknowledges fitness priority

According to Sportsnet’s Hazel Mae, Vladimir Guerrero Jr. recently talked about his fitness and how he and the Blue Jays are making it a priority.

It’s been a subject that I haven’t really wanted to touch all that often, but I figure if the player is going to bring it up then I figure it should be safe for me.

During Monday night’s broadcast, we got a report from Sportsnet’s Hazel Mae that she had talked with Vladimir Guerrero Jr. about his performance, and in particular, how his fitness has become a focus of his work again lately.

For those that may not have been watching last year, Vlad Jr’s weight was a frequent topic of discussion, especially during the periods where he was struggling. It felt like a bigger issue for him on the defensive side of the game, as he struggled at third base as a rookie last year. However, the Blue Jays made the decision to move him across the diamond in July, and he’s been splitting time between first base and DH. In theory, that would take some of the pressure off in that area.

That said, fitness is important for any professional athlete, regardless of what position they play. While there have been the Cecil Fielder‘s or even guys like David Wells who have thrived while having a bigger frame, it’s generally not regarded as recipe for success. And according to Mae’s report, Vlad Jr. blames his inconsistent performance this season on his lack of fitness.

It’s very encouraging to hear the 21-year-old acknowledge it, and even more so that he sounds committed to correcting the issue. That said, it’s also pretty discouraging after seeing the way he showed up to camp in March, when he looked as fit as we’ve seen him since his MLB debut. As Dan Schulman and Buck Martinez discussed on last night’s broadcast, it’s a lot harder to shed some weight during the season, and it’s usually something that needs to be addressed throughout the winter. According to Mae, Vlad has been heading to the ballpark a little early to get in some extra work, but it could be a lesson that he’ll need to take with him into the next off-season.

It’s certainly a bit frustrating to be talking about something like this with a professional athlete, but we also have to keep in mind that Vlad Jr. is still just 21 years old, and doesn’t have a full MLB season under his belt yet. These are important lessons to be learning in the early stages of his career, and hopefully he’ll be able to make the adjustments and fulfill his potential.