From drawing to coffee to jigsaw puzzles: What MLB players picked up with so much free time
MLB 

  • Senior writer ESPN Magazine/ESPN.com
  • Analyst/reporter ESPN television
  • Has covered baseball since 1981

Baseball players, like the rest of us, have had lots of spare time during the pandemic and in quarantine.

“I’ve learned to be alone,” said Padres pitcher Blake Snell.

There has been lots of learning, trapped in a hotel room or sequestered at home. There has been time to think, to experiment, time to develop a new hobby or refine an old one. So, from juice to jigsaws, coffee to cooking, reading to writing, guitar to golf, singing to swimming, dogs to dinosaurs, drawing to dunking, here’s what the players have been doing.

Dodgers pitcher Clayton Kershaw
“My creative writing and my drawing skills have gotten a little better working with the kiddos. My rainbow is second to none now. Some of my make-believe and my imagination has gotten a lot better with my son. My Star Wars knowledge has gone up quite a bit as well.” When asked if his children were better than him at drawing, Kershaw said, “Yes. I can’t outdraw my daughter; she’s 6, she’s already way better. Charlie and I, Charlie is 4, we’re on about the same level.”

Astros third baseman Alex Bregman
“When I was 5 years old, my dad would bring me home a pack of baseball cards. I had a blast opening up cards and reading the back of the cards of the players. So I started doing that again during the pandemic. I have really enjoyed it.” Has he opened a pack of cards with one of his baseball cards in it? “I haven’t yet,” he said. “To see one of my cards, that would be a little kid’s dream come true.” But that wasn’t it for Bregman. “I also started playing chess for the first time since high school. When I was in the seventh grade, I was a state champion in chess. I have a few chess trophies at my parent’s house.” And how is his chess game now? “Somehow, I still got it,” he said, smiling.

A’s infielder Tony Kemp
He worked as an activist with the +1 Effect. He helped educate people about race and equality. “With the George Floyd [killing], if I was depressed and not feeling too well myself, I knew someone else was feeling my same pain,” Kemp said. “That’s when I sent out, ‘Hey, if anyone wants to have a conversation, let’s talk about it.’ That’s how the +1 Effect got going. It was positive, it exceeded my expectations.”

Padres pitcher Blake Snell
“I started playing golf. My twin brother was talking trash about it, so I had to start playing.” That one takes up less space than his other hobby. “I added to my shoe collection. I’m up to about 500, 600 pair. I have to stop. I love all the Nike SBs. Chunky Dunks. So many others.” In his last house, Snell built a room just for his shoes. “But I moved,” he said, “and now I’m building with a new room just for my shoes in my new house. I love shoes.”

Yankees pitcher Jameson Taillon
“I have really upped my coffee game. If you want coffee, I am now the go-to guy in the clubhouse — and I just got here. I have perfected my game of pour-overs. Higgy (catcher Kyle Higashioka) is my No. 1 client. I have learned to first take care of the catchers and starting pitchers.”

Red Sox pitcher Chris Sale
“Lots of backyard sports with my three boys. Baseball, basketball, soccer, football, frisbee.” Can he still dunk? “Oh, I can dunk,” said Sale, who stands 6-foot-6. “But it’s not as fulfilling dunking on a 10-year-old. I had to show him who the man of the house is.”

Yankees outfielder Aaron Hicks
“I got even better at golf,” said Hicks, who has been a scratch player for years. “No major leaguer can beat me. I heard that [Mets second baseman Jeff] McNeil is good. The last Yankee to beat me was Tyler Clippard [in 2017].”

Mets first baseman Pete Alonso
“I quit video games and I am now learning how to play the guitar. I got some basic melodies and some chords down. I can play a couple pretty noticeable riffs. It doesn’t sound half bad. It doesn’t sound like nails on a chalkboard anymore. Now I’m actually playing stuff the way it’s supposed to sound. Right now, I am in guitar limbo now. I am at a plateau. But if I keep practicing, I know I’ll get good. I’m not saying I’m going to be the next Jimi Hendrix.” What’s a popular song he can play? “I can play of the melody for “Under The Bridge” by The Red Hot Chili Peppers. I can play the “Come As You Are” riff really well.”

Astros pitcher Jake Odorizzi
“My son and I got into fishing. Mostly bass fishing. Fishing in an ocean is above my pay grade. We had a great time. My son would ask why we don’t catch a fish on every cast. I told him, ‘That’s why it’s called fishing, not catching.”’

Angels shortstop Jose Iglesias
“Music. I am taking vocal classes. I love to write songs.” Can we hear some of it? “My [music] is coming out soon,” he said. “I can’t release it too soon. You’re going to have to wait.”

A’s first baseman Matt Olson
My fiancée and I got a dog. A puppy. Black Lab. Named Cooper. He’s my phone home screen. He sleeps like a champ. He’s terrible on a leash, but I think if we took the leash off, he would be perfectly by our side. She’s [Olson’s fiancée] is handling it now. But Dad’s coming home to be the strict parent.”

Astros pitcher Lance McCullers Jr.
“I became a dad.” Scouting on report on his dad skills? “I am a master swaddler, a master diaper-changer,” he said.

https://www.instagram.com/p/B8w_ucfp7gf/

Red Sox outfielder Alex Verdugo
“I started juicing my own oranges.” Does it taste better than the juice you buy at the grocery store? “Definitely, mine is much better,” he said. “Fresh orange juice is the best. I don’t like the pulp. I take the pulp out.”

Yankees pitcher Corey Kluber
“I really got into home schooling.” What is the scouting report on him as a home schooler? “Uh, I don’t have a lot of strengths and I have a lot of weaknesses,” he said. “My kids will give you all my weaknesses.”

Mets shortstop Francisco Lindor
“I continued to ride my bike. I got better. Around my house, I went 49 miles — 2 hours and 35 minutes. I just disappeared for two hours. It was amazing. The best thing ever. I would just start peddling, and the next thing you know, I was 1 hour and 10 minutes out. I thought, ‘I gotta get back.'”

Phillies catcher J.T. Realmuto
“Salt-water fishing. We went deep-sea fishing. I fell in love with it. The best part was catching a black fin tuna. I caught one on the tail, reeled it in, and then we chopped it up right there on the boat and had some fresh sashimi. It was nice.”

https://www.instagram.com/p/CAgw0FtDPSv/

Nationals pitcher Max Scherzer
“I did a lot of pour painting with my kids on YouTube. Abstract painting. It is wild.”

Cubs pitcher Trevor Williams
“I became a better dad spending so much time with my three kids. I learned that my son is a better paleontologist than I am. He knows all about dinosaurs. He knows the difference between a T-Rex and a Tyrannosaurus Rex. I’ll give him a win on that one. And I learned that my daughters are way better than I am at coloring outside the lines.”

White Sox pitcher Lance Lynn
“I read more books than I ever had in my life. Most were books with my kids. Most were on the reading level for a 5-year-old, which was good for me.”

White Sox second baseman Nick Madrigal
“I tried reading books, but that didn’t go very well. I tried meditation. That didn’t work. I’m a high-strung person. I play baseball, and when I’m not playing, I’m watching baseball.”

Padres first baseman Eric Hosmer
“I built a lot of jigsaw puzzles with my fiancée, Kacie.” Isn’t that tedious? “I tried to do my part,” he said. “[Kacie] did most of the work. But you don’t just empty a thousand pieces onto a table. You color code them, you do them in sections, you simplify it. If you need any help, I’m your guy.”

A’s shortstop Elvis Andrus
“I started meditating. I’m constantly doing it now. It only takes me 20-30 minutes. I’m in a really good place.”

Red Sox manager Alex Cora
“I became a cook. Barbequing. We went overboard. Lots of red meat. It was bad. When I did my labs to come here [to spring training] … whoooo. They put me on a diet right way. I had to do exercises. Our doctor, Larry Ronan, the best of the best, told me, ‘You better do something or I’ll have to give you medicine.”’ And what was Cora’s specialty? “For breakfast, I made stuffed peppers, stuffed with chorizo, Swiss cheese, eggs,” he said. “I’d put them on the grill for two hours. I had to get up early.”

Padres outfielder Wil Myers
“I dove into golf.” His handicap is now a 3. How far does he hit it? “In North Carolina, I usually go 310,” Myers said. “But here in Arizona, with the roll, I can go 360, 370. Arizona is a good place to drive a ball.” He said that golf can mess up his baseball swing, so he doesn’t play much during the season, adding that baseball takes priority because “I make a lot more money playing baseball.”

Red Sox DH J.D. Martinez
“I got into fishing. I figured if I couldn’t be around people, I might as well be on my boat to the middle of the ocean fishing by myself. I caught a bunch of sharks. My goal was to catch a big tuna. But the biggest one I caught was 25-30 pounds. I went nuts.”

https://www.instagram.com/p/CGIuLNQnCsc/

Twins catcher Mitch Garver
“I started streaming video games online. The people I have met through streaming video games are very loyal Twins fans, and they are loyal to me. It gives me a chance to showcase who I am as a person, not just as a baseball player. I have a personality as well.”

Twins pitcher Jose Berrios
“I taught my kids how to swim and how to ride a bike. Now they can do it all by themselves.”

Cubs pitcher Kyle Hendricks
“I watched every movie and every series on Netflix. I watched every murder movie and psychological thriller. I watched every mind-bender to take my mind off what was really going on.”

Astros manager Dusty Baker
“I tried reading. Then I watched every Western movie on Starz. My wife would ask me, ‘Didn’t you just watch that one?’ And I’d say, ‘Yes, I did.”’

Rays pitcher Chris Archer
“I don’t want to say I am one with nature, but I was in California, there was hiking, beaches. I watched the sunrise and the sunset. I watched the waves. It was peaceful to see how beautiful nature can be.”

Rays shortstop Willy Adames
“I learned to cook. Rice, beans, chicken. It was average. You can eat it.”

Yankees shortstop Gleyber Torres
“I became video game guy. My partner is [Yankees third baseman] Gio Urshela. We have “Team G.” We were better on the left side of the infield. We figured out the same thing in Call of Duty.”

Angels outfielder Dexter Fowler
“My putting got a lot better because we were stuck in a hotel room. I was putting into a cup. We were having a competition — trick shots.”

Nationals shortstop Trea Turner
“I got into yard work and projects in the house. I put up a ceiling fan in my last house. I’m not doing that again. That was scary. In the yard, you know, I put up some lights. Won’t put up a ceiling fan, but will put up outdoor lights.”

White Sox closer Liam Hendriks
“I bought a stick-handling hockey set with a light-up board. It’s about as long as a foosball table. I showed it to all my friends in Australia who have never played hockey.” Can he skate? “Very poorly,” he said. “But my wife is a former Junior Olympic figure skater. She gets very frustrated trying to teach me anything.”

Astros pitcher Ryan Pressly
“My wife and I built a garden. I grew jalapeno peppers. My wife planted everything else. We had some great salads.”

Source: Read Full Article