Last year, Jordan Danks might have snapped one of the more cruel streaks in recent White Sox history. He reported to camp having added 15 pounds of muscle, and he went on to have a personal-best season, conquering Triple-A pitching and reaching the majors, where he stayed on the 25-man roster for months.
Up until Danks, the last seven players involved in offseason "pounds of muscle" stories experienced setbacks of significant degrees over the ensuing season. Actually, John Danks was the only one to skirt disaster, as he merely enjoyed a little less success than the previous year. Maybe there's something in those lantern jaws that wards off the adverse effects of bulk.
Gordon Beckham is either betting against the genetic justification, or trying to win on a technicality. A one-time victim of the "pounds of muscle" whammy in 2011 -- he later said he felt too "heavy and puffy" -- Beckham talked about adding muscle, but Mark Gonzales' account doesn't assign a number to it, nor does the accompanying video:
Second baseman Gordon Beckham added muscle to his upper body, even after hitting a career-high 16 home runs last season.
Beckham wasn't concerned that the added weight would cut down his flexibility.
"I feel capable of driving some balls to the point where I can check that off the list," Beckham said. "I didn't want it to be a situation where I'd want to ask myself, 'If I would have gotten stronger, I would have done this.' "
Then again, the lack of a number might not help. At the bottom of last year's post, I noted that Alexei Ramirez talked about his added muscle, but he might've been safe because he avoided quantifying it.
Ramirez went on to have his worst season at the plate.
*John Danks said he completed an upper-body workout a day after throwing his first post-surgery bullpen session, so all signs are still positive. Everybody will know more when he throws for a second time.
*Matt Thornton is converting some teammates with his food-test fitness blast, as Hector Santiago and Nate Jones plan to rejigger their diets based on blood tests. Thornton mentioned that Bobby Thigpen is backing Thornton as well, because the new bullpen coach "doesn't want us eating Butterfingers" before pitching.
I wonder if this will trickle down to Addison Reed. Before he shut down his Twitter account (and I can't imagine why a closer would have one), he gave the impression that he was a massive caffeine fiend.
*In related Thornton news, he declined an opportunity to pitch for Team USA in the World Baseball Classic.
Updated from yesterday. Mark Gonzales is winning the camera phone contest.