Call it a case of good things happening to good people. Realistically, perhaps we should step back, take a big-picture view, and draw the conclusion that Mike Roose is so adept at his chosen profession that no one should be shocked by the Cumberland nativeâs meteoric rise through the Boston Red Soxâs player support chain.
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Recently Rooseâs star became much brighter, Bostonâs hierarchy awarding him the responsibility of coordinating the strength and conditioning sector of the entire minor-league operation. Official word of his promotion was delivered to his doorstep on Friday, Jan. 27, roughly one month after Roose presented his sales pitch for the said position in an interview held at Fenway Park.
Had Roose not received this well-deserved and most-rewarding âbump,â he likely would have returned for a third season as strength coach of the Pawtucket Red Sox. Instead, heâs now entrusted with the great responsibility of making sure every single one of Bostonâs farmhands are doing their due diligence in relation to staying physically fit over the course of the season.
Certainly itâs a massive undertaking, tailoring a strength and fitness program that is unanimously practiced and adhered to by every single minor-league player, from those on the cusp of the big leagues in Pawtucket to those just beginning their professional baseball odyssey in Floridaâs Gulf Coast League.
In a nutshell, thatâs what makes this new endeavor so enterprising, Roose feels. Itâs his vision, his execution, that he ultimately hopes will leave an indelible imprint upon the intended demographic.
âIâll be designing a program and making sure everyone stays on task on what they need to be doing, setting goals and expectations while trying to make these guys better baseball players,â said Roose, putting all of his cards on the table during an interview last week from Fort Myers, Fla.
THE JOB ROOSE eventually landed became available after predecessor Pat Sandora was promoted by Boston to major-league strength and conditioning coach. Previously, the title was held by Dave Page, who was relieved his duties in the wake of the mushroom cloud the 2011 Red Sox let fester amidst steady whispers of portly ballplayers.
In an effort to break free of past practices and head in a fresh direction, the Red Sox brought Roose in for an interview two days before Christmas. The army of inquisitors/questioners included farm director Ben Crockett, strength and conditioning consultant Mike Boyle, and Sandora, someone Roose had a good rapport with, given he had helped Roose get his foot in Bostonâs door as an unpaid assistant during the 2009 summer.
âThe big thing I stressed â and this is something that I hadnât talked about in past interviews â is that I wanted to have a more structured environment and have a higher level of accountability for the players,â said Roose, echoing words that no doubt hit all the high notes in response to Bostonâs restructuring approach to the strength and conditioning department.
Roose expanded further about his choice buzzword â accountability.
âIn past spring trainings, we expected Group A to work out on Mondays and a lot of guys would. Some would come in the morning, some in the afternoon or early in the evening. Itâs really hard to monitor whatâs going on, whoâs doing what and whoâs sticking to the program,â he said. âIâm trying to make it that Group A is still coming in on Mondays, but youâre coming in at set times and youâre going to be with me, going through set exercises 1, 2 and 3. The workout schedule will be posted on the wall.â
Thereâs a reason why Roose is a stickler for control and discipline. The four years he spent in the Air Force â a response to the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks â helped instill life-changing virtues that can prove effective in any setting, be it on a baseball field or war zone.
âIn the military, I learned how to be regimented and Iâm trying to teach that approach to (the minor leaguers),â Roose. âI want to teach them not only to be accountable, but to give a high level of effort also.â
As sabermetrics has helped change the way in which on-field performance is quantified, Roose believes heâs been able to tap into some areas that can only aid a playerâs quest in reaching the zenith.
âI want my program to be functional. Not to say that it wasnât in the past, but over the last 10 years, the research has advanced in terms of nutrition, performance-certain exercises, creating better movement patterns and helping the body recover,â explained Roose about his all-encompassing approach. âWeâre trying to eliminate weaknesses.
âThe majority of baseball players have the same limitations just because thatâs the way the game works,â Roose added. âAll righthanded hitters torque and contort their bodies almost the same way when theyâre at the plate. Sometimes youâre going to find that their hips are tight, meaning weâve got to work on loosening that area up so it doesnât create a problem down the road.â
THEREâS BEEN LITTLE wasted motion on Rooseâs part since landing his new gig. The training facilities at JetBlue Park, the Red Soxâ brand-new spring training home, beckoned and needed to be gone over with a fine-tooth comb. It didnât matter that camp wouldnât officially open for another few weeks. Roose needed to get acclimated and fast.
Picture the scene at your local Goldâs Gym, then times it by 100. Thatâs how Roose described the state-of-the-art exercise rooms at Fenway Southâs headquarters. âWe have some really cool tools to use where we can actually put the workouts up on TVs. Everythingâs right there, meaning all the player has to do is look up at a screen to see what theyâre supposed to do.
â(At JetBlue Park) we have a field set aside to warm guys up and make sure theyâre stretched out. Then weâll use it for conditioning and running,â was the picture Roose painted. âItâs limitless what you can do with these extra things that we never had before.â
In less than three weekâs time, Roose has compiled âa list of 8-10 exercises that will help no matter if youâre a position player or a pitcher. We understand that legs need to be strong and the back muscles are more important that your chest muscles.
âWe donât care what you look like,â Roose went on. âYour core and spine being real stable is going to help you generate more force either out of your hand when pitching or off the barrel of the bat.â
The past two seasons saw Roose shepherd two dozen or so PawSox players. He voiced absolutely zero concern when the conversation shifted to his client list expanding beyond Pawtucket.
âFortunately for me I know a lot of these guys already. Spring training for me the last two years consisted of going to big-league camp in the mornings. After they were done, I would go to minor-league camp in the afternoon and help those guys out,â Roose said. âThere are kids now in High A that were in the GCL (in â09), so theyâre excited that Iâm in a position where we can work well together.â
In terms of the travel arrangements, Roose plans to visit each Red Sox affiliate (six total) along with the academy stationed in the Dominican Republic âthree to four times during the season.â Certainly such a concrete schedule figures to prove a far cry from the early-morning summons to the airport or late-night bus rides that are commonplace when assigned to a particular minor-league club.
âThereâs still a lot of traveling; itâs just a different type of traveling,â says Roose.
BETWEEN ALL THE hustle and bustle, Roose was asked whether heâs taken time in his private moments to realize heâs embarking on a new frontier.
âAfter Triple A, itâs not the same as it is for the players moving on to the big leagues. In our department, you go from that high level of Triple A to then overseeing and coordinating a whole bunch (of players) with more responsibilities âŠ Iâm happy.â
In the same sentence, Roose provided a quote that sums up why the Red Sox deemed him the right person for the job.
âIâm excited because I know what I can do for these guys.â