'New' Hillenbrand hopes to stay a Jay
Overhauls swing, drops 18 pounds in winter of change Wants to take his game `to the next level'
and hit 30 home runs
Dec. 15, 2005. 01:00 AM
Blue Jays slugger Shea Hillenbrand has come up with a radical way to "stay sane and focused'' as he waits to see whether he gets traded.
Hillenbrand has overhauled his swing in order to take his game "to the next level" and has also dropped 18 pounds since the end of last season with a new fitness regimen. The change in his hitting approach happened after he acquired a computer program that breaks down the swings of the game's top offensive players, allowing him to study certain traits and adopt them.
"I'm very confident that it's now going to allow me to become a player who can hit 30 home runs and drive in 100," Hillenbrand, the subject of widespread trade rumours, said yesterday in a telephone interview from his home in Arizona. "I've been in this game a certain number of years and I felt it was time to take things to the next level. You can quote me on that: I think I'm going to hit 30.
"Of course, it's one thing to say it and another thing to go out and do it. But that's how good I'm feeling."
Hillenbrand, who hit 18 homers with 82 RBIs last season, said he's thrown himself into the mechanics and fitness overhaul because "that's what I've been doing this off-season instead of worrying about what's going to happen to me. It helps me to stay sane and focused."
While ecstatic when the Jays signed closer B.J. Ryan, his enthusiasm waned as Toronto pursued Milwaukee Brewers first baseman Lyle Overbay.
"I was the team's primary first baseman when the season ended," Hillenbrand said. "I think Lyle's a great first baseman and is going to be great for the team. I know him and played with him (in Arizona) and he's a great guy. But obviously, I don't know where this all leaves me. I've been through this two times before, so obviously it's nothing new to me. That's part of the business of this game. It's tough not knowing what's going to happen, but if there's any way (GM) J.P. Ricciardi can have me fit in his plans for next year, I'd love to be back.
"But something's got to give because we've got too many guys all at the same positions."
Hillenbrand, 30, said he's now 215 pounds after finishing the season at 233. "The new (Rogers Centre) turf really killed me because of all the extra weight."
Hillenbrand said he talked about the changes with Jays hitting coach Mickey Brantley at the end of the season. But he isn't sure whether the Jays are aware of how radical the changes will be or "whether it really matters to them."
"In the end they're going to do what's best for the team. I hope I get the chance to prove myself with them, but if not, I'll have to do it somewhere else."
Seems like every player in Toronto now is aiming for the 30 mark before the NHL season started Darcy Tucker said he would score 30 goals and now Shea predicts a 30HR/100 rbi
Who knows maybe with this new bluejay team he can. Well if he doesnt get traded lol