© 2009 MLB Advanced Media, L.P. All rights reserved.

06/22/09 8:03 PM ET

Ryan learning he must keep weight up

Cardinals infielder told to eat more to help avoid cramps

NEW YORK -- Brendan Ryan knew he needed to keep lots of fluids in him if he wanted to avoid cramping. He didn't know he needed to keep full of food as well.

As Ryan and the Cardinals try to find solutions to the cramps that have plagued the infielder, one potential answer lies in his body weight. Ryan said on Monday that the club believes that weight loss may have contributed in part to the leg cramps that bothered him last week.

"I always thought if you got cramps, you were playing in hot weather and weren't drinking enough," Ryan said. "And I've been drinking more than enough, so it was really kind of frustrating. And then they brought my diet into question. I weighed myself, and I've lost a little bit of weight. I don't know how much weight I've put on in the last day and a half, but I'm pretty much back to my Spring Training range. I'm trying to stay as close to 195 as I can."

After being removed from Saturday's game due to the condition, then held out of Sunday's series finale in Kansas City, Ryan was back in the starting lineup on Monday at Citi Field. He hopes that getting back to his listed weight will do the trick.

"The hydrating thing had been called into question with me, and I said, 'Absolutely not,'" he said. "That's when we weighed me, and I had lost five pounds, six pounds, something like that. I'm eating as much as I possibly can throughout the day and making sure I'm hydrated. We'll start with today, and we'll start over again as far as proving that I can be in there every day."

Lingering health issues have held Ryan back at times during his young career. The ability to stay healthy is one trait the Cardinals are eagerly hoping to see him establish.

"I think you can do things that impact how [healthy you are]," manager Tony La Russa said. "There's some contact stuff, like if you get hit with a pitch, what are you going to do? But I think there's conditioning, diet and carelessness or recklessness. You have a certain awareness of how you're playing."

Matthew Leach is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.