Pick a role in professional baseball and somewhere it's quite possible there's an Oklahoman in it.
Between the end of one season and spring training of the next is a good time to ask those individuals their thoughts on different facets of the game.
That's what The Oklahoman is doing in an occasional series, which continues with Greg Harrel of Cashion. The 49-year-old is about to begin his second season as an assistant athletic trainer for the Los Angeles Dodgers.
Harrel served as the Dodgers' Triple-A athletic trainer with Las Vegas (2007-08) and Albuquerque (2009-11) and was appointed as the organization's head minor league athletic trainer in 2008. But last season and again in 2013, his role is at the major league level.
Before the Dodgers, he worked for the Texas Rangers (1986-2003), Marlins (2004, also in Albuquerque) and Padres (2006) organizations. This included a season on Texas' major league staff in 2003.
Harrel was twice selected to the Triple-A All-Star game.
When you speak of maintenance programs for baseball players, give us an idea of what that involves?
The thing we notice a lot with baseball compared to other sports is the amount of games played. A lot of the kids are playing a lot, school ball, summer ball. We've found that maintenance programs are very important, shoulder, elbow, forearm, that type of work and core work.
Then as players get older they develop a history and they're going to know what's most important to them. When they're younger, they can probably have a generic program but as they get older their programs are really more specific to what they need based on their body, their history. Our players all have their own program that's drawn up by the athletic training staff and the strength and conditioning staff.
During infield or outfield before a game, a player may see more action than they will during a game. Is that yet another reason why stretching, running, throwing even before warm-ups — or practice — is so important?
It's important to have their bodies ready for what they're going to do. If you're a fan and you come to our games and you get there early enough to see the players stretch before batting practice or before the game, what a lot of people don't realize is that even if they're out there doing that on the field there's an active warm-up, people call it different things, that's been done by most players inside the weight room and inside the conditioning center. There they are doing stuff to get their blood flowing before they go out on the field. What you see on the field should be pretty good, because most of those guys have done something before they even go out there.
On a typical day, like a 7 o'clock game at home last year, I was typically at the field by 11:30 (a.m.), sometimes earlier. Some of that is to do some of my personal stuff but we have players that show up as early as 12:30 for a 7 o'clock game. A lot of times the guys who are injured or have something going on feel a commitment and they're there earlier than we even tell them to be. That happens quite often.