Prompted by an on-air moment last summer, Darling decided his grasp of at least one aspect of today's game would benefit from winter workouts. He already knew his physique would, too. So he began six-per-week sessions that included lifting, running, stretching, pulling, pushing, throwing, sweating, groaning ... and learning . . .
. . . The work is quite different from what he recalled. "I came from a time when pitchers didn't use weights and you didn't drink water while you were working out," Darling said. He recalled a emphasis on extended running. "The mentality was to finish," Darling said. "To be successful [as a starting pitcher], you had to win and finish, pitch a complete game. Mel [Stottlemyre, Darling's pitching coach with the Mets] had us run the trail in Port St. Lucie -- three miles. And he stressed finishing."
Darling recognized less emphasis on cardiovascular conditioning in the workouts suggested to him: "More stretching, weight training and doing things in quick spurts," he said. The game is played spurts.
I'm a bit out of my depth here -- Will Carroll, you out there? -- but I wonder if the sort of cardio-training Darling went through in the 80s might benefit pitchers today (that is, if they don't do it as much today, as Darling seems to assume). We know so little about arm injuries, but it makes sense to me that endurance training would help in that, if your body is tired, might a pitcher not put more strain on his arm than usual, thus increasing the chance of injury?
Jim Bouton got a lot of laughs in Ball Four complaining about running in the outfield, but maybe if his legs were stronger he wouldn't have had to become a knuckleballer.