Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Reds minor league pitcher drops 70 pounds over the offseason

Jose Diaz with the Indianapolis Indians in 2012.

Jose "Jumbo" Diaz may be forced to change his nickname.

This is because the Reds minor league pitcher showed up to spring training weighing 70 pounds less than he did at the end of the 2013 campaign. The Dominican native went from tipping the scales at 350 pounds to 278 pounds in a matter of months.

"A lot of people say you have to change your nickname because you're not Jumbo anymore," Diaz told C. Trent Rosecrans of the Cincinnati Enquirer. "But I feel really good because everyone's impressed when they see me. They say, 'Where is Jumbo?' I'm 'New Jumbo' now. I feel really good and I'm doing my best right now. Spring training so far, I feel really good."

This season marks Diaz's 12th in professional baseball. However, the 6-foot-4 right-hander has yet to make an appearance at the major league level, although he has certainly come close recently.

The 29-year-old spent last season as the closer for Triple-A Louisville. In 44 outings, Diaz notched a tidy 1.66 ERA and 13 saves for the Bats. In 2012, he pitched for the Triple-A Indianapolis Indians, at a playing weight of around 330 pounds, which he says was the heaviest he has ever been.

So, how did Diaz undergo the drastic transformation? Rosecrans explains:

Perhaps the hardest part of his transformation was telling his mother and wife no. When he returned to the Dominican Republic after the season, he ate well for two weeks — rice and beans and fried chicken. It's the cuisine of the island and one he grew up eating and still loves. But now, he's one of the few Dominican players who doesn't eat rice and beans. Instead, you can see him heading out of the team's cafeteria with water and bananas.

After two weeks of home cooking, Diaz got down to business, seeing a nutritionist to outline his diet. At that point, he weighed 347 pounds.

That's when he started on his diet and exercise. It's wasn't a fancy diet — "I eat salad and more salad — lots of stuff like that," he said. And it wasn't a particularly advanced workout routine — lots and lots of running and also weight training.

Great story. I think I can speak for everyone reading this by saying we will be rooting for this guy as he tries to make his big league dream come true.

Photo: John Gray

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