Coach Alejo has impact on A's health
Players praise program for getting, keeping them well
SEATTLE -- The A's brought back Bob Alejo for a second stint as their strength and conditioning coach in part to stem the tide of injuries that had washed away any hope of contention in 2007 and '08.
Oakland used the disabled list 22 times in '07, tying a dubious club record, then shattered the mark by using the DL 25 times in '08.
Alejo, who held the same position with the team from 1993-2001, was hired last winter. The A's have used the DL 17 times this year. He expects that number to drop more dramatically in 2010.
"You have to have a full year of training, and that has to include one offseason," he said Wednesday before the second game of a three-game series at Safeco Field. "We haven't had that yet since I came back, but we will have that by Spring Training. That's when I'll have had a truly full year, and that's when we can start making evaluations.
"I promise you, the best is yet to come."
Several players have credited Alejo's program for keeping them healthy, with young pitchers Brett Anderson and Trevor Cahill tops among them. Others credit Alejo for getting them healthy, as does second baseman Mark Ellis.
Ellis was so pleased with the physical improvements he made while working with Alejo to rehab a strained left calf muscle that forced him to miss two months, he's still on the program, even though he's 100 percent healthy.
"Bob's awesome," Ellis said. "Not only did he get me back, but he made me better, faster. He's incredible at what he does, and everyone on the team knows it."
Told of the praise he's been receiving from the players as the long season winds down, Alejo returns serve.
"They have done an excellent job of committing to the program, and it's not an easy program to commit to; it's hard," Alejo said. "Also, a lot of the guys, the younger guys, had never gone into something this deep, this hard. But they've all attacked it in their own way, and that's a credit to them."
Having many of the team's veterans buy into the program, Alejo added, was a key to getting any hesitant younger players on board.
"That's a major part of it," he said. "Matt Holliday, Jason [Giambi], Orlando Cabrera when he got here, Russ Springer, Elly and now Adam Kennedy, they bought in right off the bat."
Come the start of next season, Alejo promised, the investment will start reaping big benefits.
"This is how we did it the first time I was here, and we were successful, so there's no reason to change that," he said. "We're going to work hard, we're going to get strong, we're going to stay healthy and we're going to be hard to beat."
Mychael Urban is a national writer for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.