Mo Vaughn was heavily
criticized last season when his batting
average (.259) fell well short of his weight
(275 or more), but he arrived in camp
yesterday looking trimmer.
he's ready for a big year
The Journal News
ST. LUCIE, Fla. -A group of 20 reporters
and photographers gathered in front of
Thomas J. White Stadium late yesterday
afternoon awaiting the arrival of Mo
Vaughn. A black sport utility vehicle
pulled up and the crowd stirred. Out
banned fight fielder Jeromy Burnitz,
who pulled his T-shirt up over his
stomach and laughed. Vaughn arrived a
few minutes later in the back of a
stretch limousine. No joke this time the
Hit Dog looked good. He wouldn't reveal
his weight or how many pounds he'd shed,
but the sluggish slugger who played for
the Mets last season is no more.
Vaughn's waist was trimmer, his chest
more defined, and his arms filled the
sleeves of a dark blue T shirt. Listed
at 275 I pounds last season and likely
well over that, the 35-year-old Vaughn
is much closer to 250 and has six weeks
of spring training to further improve on
that. "I love playing the game, even in
the bad times," Vaughn said. "I want to
play at a high level again, and I knew I
needed to do the right things to do that
again." Vaughn changed his offseason
workouts to emphasize speed over power.
The first baseman employed a personal
trainer and chef at his home in
Columbus, Ohio, and spent only a few
days in New York once the season was
over. "It's a lifestyle change," he
said. "There were good days and bad
days, but I stuck to it. It was easier
than I thought, but I also worked out
very hard." Vaughn hit only.259 with 26
72 RBI last
season. He committed 18 errors at first base and
bogged down the offense with his slow feet. His
poor conditioning drew the attention of owner
Fred Wilpon, who demanded Vaughn get in better
Vaughn actually started the process midway
through last season when he hired a White Plains
company to prepare his meals.
"Mo has been great to work with. I've worked
with some other professional athletes and he's
as dedicated as anybody," said Monica Lynn, the
owner of 5 Squares. "I'm floored by him."
Many fitness experts advocate eating five small
meals a day, about 2,000 calories. Lynn's
company provides those meals for Vaughn.
"It's gourmet food and it's food he likes," she
said. "But there aren't any empty calories from
wheat and sugar."
Said Vaughn: "It's a science, and
I know that now. You have to fuel your body and
do the right things. I learned a lot."
Ben Velasquez, Vaughn's trainer,
suggested he sign up with with 5 Squares. The
company gave recipes to Vaughn's personal chef
in Ohio. A sister company will prepare his meals
in Florida during the next six weeks.
proof, we take care of everything," Lynn said.
"If you stick to the plan, it works. People are
going to see a new Mo Vaughn. I can't wait to
see him play this season."
Manager Art Howe feels the same way Vaughn
hit.285 with 21 home runs and 47 RBI over his
last 78 games in 2002 and the Mets are banking
on him continuing that" pace.
"We let him know how much we're going to rely on
him and how much we need him," Howe said. "I
think he has his priorities straight this
season. He's a lot of fun to be around .... He's
going to bounce back."
Vaughn, an outspoken clubhouse leader during his
years with the Red Sox, was largely silent last
season, beset by his own problems after missing
the 2001 season with an arm injury.
But Vaughn spoke confidently yesterday, saying
he wants to play another five years and return
to the form he showed in 1995 when he won the
American League MVP award in Boston. "I haven't
had a really great year in about four years," he
said. "It's about time."