Ryan Lavarnway was selected the Offensive Co-Player of the Year in the Red Sox organization after the 2010 season. Between stops at Salem and Portland, he hit .288 with 22 home runs and 102 RBIs.
Then, he stepped it up.
In the wake of that breakout season, Lavarnway took on a new offseason workout regimen that turned the promising young slugger into one of the top power prospects in the minors. A California native, Lavarnway began going four days a week to the Elite Performance Factory in Westlake Village, Calif.
Not that he wasn’t in tune with his body before that, but the routine he developed with the professional staff there was a revelation.
“Last year was the first year I started going to this place and I loved it, I absolutely loved it,” Lavarnway said. “I felt a lot stronger. I felt a lot more conditioned. I feel like it’s lasted longer into this year than it has in years past.”
The visits involved a training regimen that lasted a couple of hours, after which Lavarnway would add on some cardio work on his own and then spend time in a hyperbaric chamber to recover.
That strength and conditioning certainly showed in Lavarnway’s production. After starting strong for Portland this year, he rose to Triple-A Pawtucket, where he immediately became one of the more feared sluggers in the International League — his 1.002 OPS for the PawSox was tops in the IL for players who appeared in at least 60 games.
The 24-year-old catcher/designated hitter played so well that he was the man the Red Sox called upon when David Ortiz was lost for nine games in August due to right heel bursitis. And Lavarnway just kept on producing, batting .318 (7-for-22) with two doubles, three RBIs and four walks in six starts in place of Ortiz.
Lavarnway eventually went back down to Pawtucket, kept hitting, and then became one of the team’s September call-ups. Because of the revamped offseason plan, he still feels great, despite playing a demanding position.
“For me, being a catcher during the season, I get pretty broken down as the year goes on,” he said. “But for me it’s about not only getting back to even but trying to build to come into each year stronger than the year before.”
This mindset can translate to life outside of baseball. Everyone has down time, whether from work or family. Making the most of that time can yield plenty of positives when it’s time to get back in action.
Lavarnway, who will also play some winter ball in Venezuela this offseason, said he won’t change too much this aside from eating a bit better from the start, rather than waiting a few weeks to get into a better diet. And why should he? The results have been tremendous, helping to transform a promising prospect to a bona fide major league talent.
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