Cardinals' latest training method: pilates

JUPITER, Fla. -- Catchers often begin their work days here at 7 a.m. with early work. Yadier Molina, who is undergoing treatment as he recovers from thumb surgery, is sometimes here at 4:30. After about a seven-hour workout, the word went out through the St. Louis Cardinals clubhouse Wednesday afternoon that the catchers weren't quite done for the day.

"Time for pilates!" someone yelled.

The Cardinals are incorporating pilates, sometimes called the "art of controlled movements," into their conditioning program for the first time this spring. The team wants to ensure players spend as much time working on flexibility and core strength as they do with building muscle mass.

"We encourage ways to make sure we're really conscious about flexibility," manager Mike Matheny said. "We're trying to build muscle mass -- bigger, stronger, faster is kind of the nature of sports -- so it's kind of the balance of the two."

The Cardinals have hired a pilates instructor from St. Louis and plans on making it part of the team's conditioning all season.

"It's definitely a little more exhausting than I expected it to be," outfielder Randal Grichuk said.