Yankees fans watched in disbelief as player after player headed to the injured list during the 2019 season. By the time it was over, the Yankees saw a record 30 players spend time on the injured list, losing over 600 more games than the next closest team. It was no surprise that changes to the Yankees athletic training staff began over the winter, including landing a deal with Eric Cressey, who is considered the best in the business when it comes to getting players prepared for the rigors of the major league season.
Cressey did not begin his work in athletic training with baseball in mind. His first gym happened to be attached to a baseball stadium, and he ended up with numerous players coming through and using his facility. Using his proximity to the field, he watched closely and began building relationships with the players to see where he could help them improve their physical tools.
Armed with a Master’s Degree in Kinesiology from the highly regarded program at the University of Connecticut, Cressey’s training methods are built off his academic background. He has shared his exercise philosophies in books, DVD sets, and over 500 published articles.
Cressey’s list of clientele has continued to grow as players shared their experience working with him. In a regular offseason, over 100 professional baseball players from North America and Japan travel to Cressey’s two training centers to prepare for their upcoming seasons.
Counted among that number are some of the most successful pitchers of the last decade. Cressey gained a level of status when two of his clients, Corey Kluber and Max Scherzer, won the Cy Young awards for their respective leagues in 2017.
Kluber has been a Cressey client for over nine years, a period that’s coincided with much of the success that he has found in his career. In a testimonial to Cressey Sports Performance, Kluber said “CSP has been a crucial part of the success I have had in my career to this point. The programs have helped me gain velocity as well as put my body in a position to remain healthy throughout a long season.”
Two members of the 2020 Yankees have close ties to Cressey’s facility in Hudson, MA. Pitching coach Matt Blake worked as the pitching coordinator for seven years at the facility. During his time there he helped the spot gain its reputation for being on the cutting edge of integrating technology into pitcher development. After being hired as the Yankees new pitching coach, Blake immediately gave Cressey a strong endorsement as someone who could help the Yankees.
Right-handed pitcher Mike King grew up in Rhode Island before attending Boston College. He has worked at CSP on and off since high school, and has a very good relationship with Cressey.
During a training session at Cressey’s facility before the 2018 season, King was able to pick the brain of Scherzer, who there at the same time. Building off that discussion as well as the experience of watching Scherzer go through his regular routines, King emerged as a serious prospect. That season, King was promoted through two levels of the minors, finishing with Triple-A Scranton and being named the Yankees minor league pitcher of the year.
When baseball was shut down this spring, Cressey’s Palm Beach Gardens gym became a gathering place for many of the top players in the game. In addition to Scherzer and Justin Verlander, hitters such as Giancarlo Stanton and Paul Goldschmidt used the facility.
Cressey’s facilities are certain to become mandatory stopping points for Yankees players. Just this past weekend, the Yankees fourth-round pick Beck Way was working with Cressey at his facility in Massachusetts. Through this work the Yankees are hoping that Way can improve his physical base and rise quickly through the system.
Eric Cressey’s reputation has been earned as his clients find success year after year. Having joined the Yankees organization in January, there is still time before the full results of his work will be on display. The early results look impressive, as Yankees players look ready to face the season after working directly with Cressey over the shutdown.