Everything evolves including the game of baseball. It definitely has just since I’ve been in the game until now. I got to see first hand how while managing the World Team for the Futures Game over All-Star weekend.
Players are stronger now than ever. I was in the clubhouse at Nationals Park, looking at these kids - and I was like, 'whoa.' These kids right here, they could be my children, most of them, because they're 20 and below. But their bodies, man…. These guys' bodies are unbelievable.
I felt like I was in an NBA locker room. Everybody is so tall, so well built up. I was looking at my boy Fernando Tatis' son - me and Tatis, we played a lot of winter ball together, so I saw his son when he was a baby. Man, I saw this kid yesterday - it was one of the most impressive things I've seen in a long time. He makes the game look like he's playing in his backyard.
Of course, when you're that big, you look at the game differently. When you're that strong, you're not thinking about getting base hits no matter what part of the lineup you're hitting in. No one worries about hitting for average; it’s all about the power.
It seems like organizations are teaching kids how to hit homers more than anything else. When you see the tryout - back in the Dominican, when they want to sign the kids at age 16, when they put them on the field for the tryout, the scout wants to watch you, and they want to see how far you can hit the ball. They don't say, 'hit the ball opposite field, hit the ball up the middle,' they say, 'let me see how far you can hit the ball.'
If at 16 they're teaching you that, as you get older, what do you think is going to happen? Who're the guys getting paid? Who's the guy making big money?
The guy hitting homers.
But it’s not just the hitters. Pitchers, nowadays, are better than ever. You have guys throwing 100 mph now, throwing 12-6 (curveballs), throwing you changeups 3-2, nasty sliders, good cutters. What else do you want?
It’s where the game is going. All players are stronger now.
Big muscles are not necessary to be a great baseball player. But if anyone in today’s game wants to keep up, they might want to start working.