PEORIA, Ariz. – You want will power? You want determination to reach a goal?
Look no further than Randy Messenger and his big box of candy.
It’s not so much temptation anymore as it is a reminder of what he once was – a big, beefy pitcher trying to acquire more, apparently, than a taste of the big leagues.
That’s about all Messenger has received in a 10-year pro career in the Florida, San Francisco and, now, Seattle organizations. He’s a hard-throwing right-hander hungry to win a job in the Mariners’ bullpen and willing to do anything to get it.
Like lose a substantial amount of weight.
Messenger reported to spring training 33 pounds lighter than when the Mariners last saw him in September, having put himself through a no-candy, no-fried-food, all-hard-work regimen in the offseason.
“I cut all the (junk) out of my diet, watched what I ate and worked my butt off,” said the 6-foot-6, now-240-pounder. “That’s all I did. That’s all you can really do if you want to lose that kind of weight.
“I used to eat a lot of candy and I’ve cut that out completely. All my candy now is chewable Vitamin C.”
He still has one candy habit.
Messenger, on his drives to spring training from Reno, Nev., would stop in Las Vegas and buy a six-week supply of candy. He did again this year, although he has refrained from the sugar smorgasbord that’s just a binge away.
“I always stop at a candy store on the way down here, but I haven’t even touched it yet,” he said. “Usually I’ve destroyed two bags by now.”
Messenger says the Mariners told him to lose weight during the offseason, but they didn’t send him to Reno with a strict diet-and-workout plan like they did Carlos Silva.
“He did it himself,” trainer Rick Griffin said. “I didn’t tell him anything. He said, ‘I know what I need to do. I’m going to be down to 260 when I get to spring training.’ He showed up at 250.”
Messenger reported to spring training having transformed himself as impressively as Silva, who lost 30 pounds.
“They didn’t expect me to come back as light as I did,” Messenger said. “It was a personal goal and a goal of the team. I did it for me, the organization and my family.”
Messenger said he definitely feels a difference, although not necessarily when he’s on the mound.
“It’s the little things. Waking up in the morning, I have more energy now,” he said. “When I’m running, I feel a lot better. When I pitch, I can’t really tell.
“People say, ‘Wow, you’ve lost a lot of weight,’ but everything feels the same. My body feels the same and my arm feels great. But that is the No. 1 thing everybody notices.”
How different does Messenger look? His wife, Venessa, didn’t realize it was him running to the mound from the bullpen before he pitched in Wednesday’s exhibition against the San Diego Padres.
Messenger gave up one hit and struck out two in two scoreless innings.
“Any time you come out and have a successful outing like that, it’s always good to remember what you did for the next time out,” said Messenger, who also pitched a scoreless inning in an intrasquad game early this week. “It was great just having a different team to throw against. I know it’s spring training, but it still means something.”
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