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Dodgers

Dodgers head trainer Brandon McDaniel to stream workouts for fans twice a week

Dodgers manager Dave Roberts watches pitcher Walker Buehler during a spring training bullpen session at Camelback Ranch in Arizona on Feb. 20.
Dodgers manager Dave Roberts watches pitcher Walker Buehler during a spring training bullpen session at Camelback Ranch in Arizona on Feb. 20.
(Kent Nishimura / Los Angeles Times)

Among the challenges for many people during the COVID-19 outbreak, though perhaps somewhere down the list of importance, is maintaining a workout regimen while confined at home. The Dodgers are offering help.

Brandon McDaniel, the team’s director of player performance, will stream a 30-minute workout every Monday and Friday at 8 a.m. for the public on the Dodgers’ YouTube, Facebook, and Twitter pages. McDaniel will conduct the first few sessions alone with explanations for each exercise. He said players may join eventually if they’re interested and can get to his home, where he’s holding the workouts. The first workout is Friday.

“Psychologically, fitness is huge right now,” McDaniel said in a conference call. “To be locked in a house, or wherever you might be, being fit and having the ability to exercise and release some endorphins and get some hormones going is really good for your mental health.”

Whenever the Dodgers begin their 2020 season, if one is played at all, it’s McDaniel’s job to ensure the players are as prepared as possible for opening day.

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The task is unlike any that McDaniel and his staff have encountered in their careers. They are unable to work with players directly. Dodger Stadium and the club’s spring training facility are closed. As are most gyms across the country. The circumstances have forced creativity.

McDaniel and three members of his staff divvied up the Dodgers’ 40-man roster and constructed individualized workouts for each player. They are talking to players via video chats and phone calls, walking them through exercises when necessary.

A few players have home gyms. Others have access to a gym, somewhere. Others can’t get to one and have been left to test their resourcefulness holed up in their living rooms, garages, and backyards. McDaniel challenged players to get creative. So far, he said, Gavin Lux, the organization’s top prospect, has stood out for his ingenuity.

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Some sessions look like the home workouts made famous by celebrity trainers — think Shaun T’s Insanity or Tony Horton’s P90X. There’s jumping and lunging. For weightlifting, jugs and cans are used if dumbbells aren’t available. The point is to avoid falling behind. For people at home, it’s to work up a sweat.

“The workouts that we’re going to provide for our fan base are literally the same workouts that we’re giving some of our players,” McDaniels said.

The difference, of course, is that players aren’t partaking in workouts just to keep weight off or stay sane. They hope to have a season at some point this summer, perhaps deep into the autumn, and maybe even into the beginning of the winter if their World Series aspirations come true.

Normal seasons — 162 games played over 187 days followed by the postseason — take tolls on bodies even after proper offseason regimens. This year could bring uncharted territory — a condensed schedule with frequent doubleheaders after a truncated spring training. It’s a recipe for widespread injuries. In the long term, McDaniel said, the industry will learn a lot about the level of preparation and work needed for the future. In the short term, the possibility is concerning.

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The Dodgers and Angels haven’t said how they will distribute the $1 million each MLB team pledged to pay stadium workers during the coronavirus shutdown.

“Anytime you take even two weeks off of doing something,” McDaniel said, “it really scares me.”

So, McDaniel said, there’s a balance. Players need to stay in shape, but also need to prevent overworking. That’s especially true for pitchers. Most were close to getting fully built up in spring training three weeks ago, and most of that progress has been lost. The goals are to not lose all of it and to avert injury.

“That’s a pretty tough blow, I think, for them,” McDaniel said. “We’ve never really had to deal with anything like this before.”

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For now, McDaniel and his staff are “hovering” over players, guiding them from afar for the foreseeable future. Twice a week, every Monday and Friday, McDaniel will guide fans, too.


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