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The boys are back in town
Local MLB prospects return to Mid-Valley
Elite Fitness is hosting a professional baseball camp on Saturday and Sunday at its complex located at 851 Gray Ave. in Yuba City.
Each session will run from 10 a.m-2 p.m.. Saturday’s session is for 6-12-year-olds and the Sunday session will be for ages 13-18.
The camp will teach players baseball fundamentals and skills, along with agility, strength and conditioning exercises.
The camp’s professional coaching staff includes Brock Stassi (Phillies), Max Stassi (A’s), Matt Vedo (Mariners) and Andrew Susac (San Francisco Giants).
The cost is $60 and players are asked to bring their baseball gear as well as turf or running shoes.
To register, call Joey Gonzalez at 300-8778.
As monotonous as the routine is, Matt Vedo knows it will pay off later this year in the heat of August.
The Seattle Mariners pitching prospect, clad in team-issued shorts, a Seattle Seahawks sideline cap and an Elite Fitness dry-fit shirt, just kept tossing a baseball at the wall.
Every time he threw the ball against cement, the right-hander was aiming right below a poster adorning the wall that read: "There is no offseason."
This is professional baseball. Vedo's being paid for his ability to get batters out. He knows this, and it's why he's spending the winter working as hard as he can.
Thursday's core workout included medicine ball rotations, abdominal exercises and "atomic" push-ups, an exercise in which his feet were suspended by cables as he performed a pushup on an exercise ball.
Vedo realizes he has a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity and is taking full advantage of it.
"I want to stay in this game as long as possible," Vedo said. "I want to show up at spring training firing on all cylinders. The offseason is where you want to crush it."
Vedo and three other Mid-Valley products are putting in the necessary commitment this offseason as they prepare for the upcoming baseball season, where they hope to continue their ascent through the minor league systems of their respective organizations.
Vedo, who turns 23 on Saturday, was drafted out of UC Santa Barbara by way of Yuba College in the 24th round of the 2012 draft and spent his first season of pro ball with the Mariners' short-season club, the Everett AquaSox.
A starter for most of his baseball career, Vedo has been converted to a closer and touched 94 mph on the radar gun last season. He also owns a devastating slider.
The Colusa High grad is spending this offseason at the new Elite Fitness training complex in Yuba City, building strength and endurance with fellow local prospects Brock and Max Stassi.
The Mariners provided Vedo with a detailed offseason workout regimen. After being drafted, he spent three weeks at instructional camp where they measured players' abilities in strength, plyometrics, explosiveness, ground force and several other categories. Those numbers were calculated into each player's offseason program.
"They tailored our workouts to achieve our goals," Vedo said. "I also want to get more mentally tough and work on handling stressful situations. Getting stronger also helps push our mental capacities to the limit and helps us prepare for whatever is thrown at us."
The mental part of the game is something Brock Stassi has come to respect as well.
From that surreal moment in 2011 when he received his first paycheck for playing baseball, the 23-year-old Stassi hasn't taken one moment for granted. He compared that moment to his first paycheck from working at Papa Murphy's — baseball comes easier to him than making pizza.
In 2012, Stassi had hopes of beginning his first full minor league season with an affiliated club, but was assigned to extended spring training. He was later promoted to the organization's Class A affiliate in Lakewood, Fla.
"That ended up being a blessing in disguise," Stassi said. "I learned a lot about myself as not only a player, but a person. Sometimes we were only playing in front of two people, usually somebody's parents."
His goal in 2013 is to break camp with the Phillies' Class A-Advanced team, the Clearwater Threshers. To accomplish this, he's pushing himself harder than he ever has.
He's been religious with his daily workouts provided by the Phillies and spends five days a week at Elite Fitness with trainer Greg Howard.
The toughest days of training have included trips down to the shores of the Feather River where Stassi, his brother and Vedo do workouts in the sand.
"The workouts we're going through are unbelievable," Stassi said. "I've never worked out this hard in my life. If I don't see results from this, then I don't know what will get me results."
Brock's brother Max has been right alongside him this offseason, preparing for his fifth season of minor league baseball in the Oakland A's organization at the age of 21.
He's trying to build strength to avoid injury as he missed parts of 2012 with an oblique strain and a sprained ankle. He missed the majority of 2011 after shoulder surgery.
"I feel a lot better and I'm really learning how to take care of my body day in and day out," Max Stassi said. "It's trial and error in the minor leagues. Each year, I feel I keep getting smarter and smarter on how to take care of my body by doing the right things on and off the field."
After spending the last few offseasons working out in Sacramento, Stassi is happy about only having to drive five minutes to get a workout in.
His 2012 season didn't end until the conclusion of the Arizona Fall League. Being in his hometown provided a much-needed time of respite.
"It's good to take a couple of months off and not pick up a baseball or a bat," Max Stassi said. "It's nice to just relax on the couch and not have to worry about being at the yard."
That will come soon enough when pitchers and catchers report in February.
Marysville product Mike Walker won't be in camp until late March as he plans to play for Australia in the upcoming World Baseball Classic tournament. He holds dual-citizenship in Australia and the United States as his mother is Australian.
Walker returned home to Loma Rica this offseason after being named an All-Star in the Florida State League with the Brevard County Manatees, the Class A-Advanced affiliate of the Milwaukee Brewers.
Aside from his daily workout at Yuba-Sutter Training Zone in Marysville, he added a little quirk to his regimen by implementing a yoga routine to improve his flexibility as a third baseman. Walker also meditates daily to clear his mind, a tool used to solidify his mental game.
"I only started swinging a bat two weeks ago," Walker said. "During the season, it's so vigorous and nonstop, you may get one or two days off a month if you're lucky."
The 24-year-old Walker is optimistic about starting 2013 with Milwaukee's Double-A team in Hunstville, Ala., after his breakout 2012 campaign. Yet, he knows that this game is a business and these decisions are out of his hands.
All four players shared a similar sentiment — they're extremely fortunate to be getting paid to do something they love.
"The day-to-day grind is tough but you have to keep it in perspective," Walker said. "I'll call my friends and they tell me, 'Mike, I'd trade places with you in a second if I could.' So I'm very grateful for my opportunity to still be playing baseball at this time in my life — it's a blessing."