It looks like it might be a trend on the rise. Off-season training that focuses on flexibility, agility and strength of muscles used in baseball motions rather than only core strength and bench pressing or other pure weight lifting moves appears to be growing among baseball players.
Two Twins in particular have indicated their changes in off-season workouts – Glen Perkins and Denard Span – are key to their success. Perkins made the shift away from primarily weight training a year ago and it may have contributed to his surge in velocity as well as general effectiveness as a reliever in 2011. Span made adjustments as part of his recovery from concussion symptoms during this off-season. Span also included regular Yoga work as well as regular massages in his routine. We shall see how that plays out for him this year.
Other players in the major leagues have deviated from the now routine weight training approach and it looks to me like this will become another development in the evolution of training strategies for professional players.
It makes sense to me to build strength through flexibility development while training the muscles and motions that one actually uses in the sport. It also makes sense that doing other athletic activities, not just the sport one specializes in, would be good for development as well as avoiding repetitive motion injuries from too much of the same.
Maybe one result of this some time down the road will be a return to the multi-sport high school athlete as a good thing as opposed to the current emphasis on specializing early. I’ve always been convinced that developing all athletic abilities is a strength one can build on for the primary sport.