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The Suns are cooking

A look at how minor league ballplayers manage their meals

A look at how minor league ballplayers manage their meals

June 21, 2006|by KRISTIN WILSON

They catch, they throw. They pitch crazy curve balls and strive for the grand slam.

But baseball aside, there's one other thing that binds together members of the Hagerstown Suns baseball team: They all love to eat.

Before and after games, if it smells like food and tastes pretty good, it's gone, says Pete Stasio, equipment and clubhouse manager for the Hagerstown Suns.

"If it's hot, they'll eat it," he says. "These guys like to eat. Everything I put out is usually gone by the end of the night."

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For Suns players to do their best on the field, their bodies must be fueled with good food that can keep them energized before and during the game, Stasio says.

Some players take nutrition pretty seriously, while others take advantage of their young, male metabolism.

"I say I have a see-food diet," says Brandon Nall, 24, one of the Suns' relief pitchers. "I see it, I eat it."

Nall says he tries to cook for himself whenever possible. He finds it less expensive to eat food he prepares than to eat out on a regular basis. Besides, while he says he's not the best cook, he's picked up enough basic recipes to make things the way he likes them.

"I eat a lot of chicken," Nall says. "I just cook it over a hot iron skillet. Whatever I've got in the cupboard I'll put on (the chicken)." Nall dresses up his chicken dinners with seasonings such as lemon-pepper.

Like many of his teammates at the Hagerstown Suns, Nall is on a tight budget, "so I go with whatever's cheap" when it comes to food. Balancing a budget with nutritious food choices isn't always easy, but Nall finds that lean chicken and hamburger are good protein sources that don't break the bank.

For Grady Hinchman, 24, also a relief pitcher, breakfast is the most important meal of the day.

"That's the biggest meal for me," he says. "It's my favorite and I just feel I get the fuel I need for the day from eating breakfast."

Hinchman takes his morning meal seriously. Breakfast can include pancakes, scrambled eggs, lean bacon, fruit and several glasses of milk. For dinner he tries to eat "relatively healthy" and on the lighter side. Chicken Caesar salad or salmon are some of his top choices.

"It's real easy to fall into the trap of grabbing something quick and getting to the field," Hinchman says. "But you can feel it ... if you don't get the right fuel."

As an affiliate of the New York Mets organization, nutrition for Suns players is taken seriously, Stasio says.

"You don't get the maximum potential out of your body if you're not eating right," he says.

When the Suns play at home they get a post-batting practice spread of deli meats and vegetables to make sandwiches and dairy options like cheese and yogurt.

After the game, Stasio tries to provide a hot, high carbohydrate meal, to re-energize players for the next day. Post-game meals can include beef stroganoff, pasta dishes and lasagna, for example. Working with the team's nutritionist, the Suns recommend their players get a high-carbohydrate, high-protein diet that is low in fat, Stasio says.

The Mets "put a high priority in making sure there is good food," Stasio says. "There's a solid five-hour period where (the players) are going - fielding, running, hitting, playing. They're on. They're full force."

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