Baseball life

Rockies' Dahl learning how to be a professional player

David Dahl, last season’s Pioneer League MVP, signs a picture Saturday for Torrey Beil during the Rockies Winter Caravan stop at the Ale House. After his successful rookie season in Grand Junction, Dahl is focused on the next step in his professional journey.

It didn’t take long for David Dahl to make a plan for his baseball career.

The Colorado Rockies’ 2012 first-round draft pick didn’t just go home to Birmingham, Ala., after the Grand Junction Rockies’ season ended.

Along with several of his teammates, he went to instructional league baseball in the fall. Then, he and his father sat down and discussed his next step.

“I didn’t want to go to Birmingham. When I go there, I’d probably get lazy,” Dahl said during a trip to Grand Junction for the GJ Rockies Winter Caravan over the weekend, meeting fans across the Western Slope.

The caravan wrapped up Saturday night with stops in Fruita and Grand Junction.

“This was a great place to start my career,” Dahl said of quickly agreeing to be part of the caravan. “I loved it here. It was awesome.

“Everyone says your first team is the one you stay closest with. I’ll be keeping in touch with them for a long time.”

Still only 18 years old, Dahl moved to Scottsdale, Ariz., where the Rockies training facility is, and started training at Athletes Performance Institute.

He’s not only getting bigger and stronger, but he’s soaking up all kinds of tips from several major league players who train at API.

“It’s really cool because you’ve got a lot of big-leaguers working out there, big-time big-leaguers,” Dahl said. “They help you out, and you learn how to prepare, get your body right, eat right.”

That’s been the biggest part of Dahl’s offseason, a realization he came to as he was taught proper nutrition.

No more late-night cheeseburgers, fries and milkshakes.

“Learning how to play every day, play that many games,” he said of what he learned during his Pioneer League MVP season. “It’s not a lot compared to a long season, but that was the first time I’d played that many days in a row. Learning how to prepare your body, learning what I need to work on in the offseason, what I need to get better at.

“And stuff like learning I eat terrible. Now I have to learn how to eat. That will make my body feel a lot better.”

Protein shakes and proper nutrition this offseason, along with stringent workouts, helped him put on more than 15 pounds since the end of the Rockies’ season.

He had dropped to 175 pounds at one point last summer, but got back to 183. He now weighs 200 pounds, which, he hopes, will help him maintain his strength throughout a longer season this summer.

He has no idea where he’ll be assigned after spring training, which begins March 8 for minor league position players. It’s possible Dahl could skip short-season A ball in Tri-City (Pasco, Wash.) and go to Class A in Asheville, N.C., which won the South Atlantic League championship last season.

When he first got to API, Dahl was working out twice a day, doing speed and agility drills, plyometrics and pulling a weighted sled, then a session in the state-of-the-art weight room. His program is now one workout a day, then hitting in the batting cages and taking fly balls to prepare for spring training.

“Honestly, I did not like going to work out during the season. That was really hard for me because I had never done it,” Dahl said. “This offseason really showed me that baseball is a year-round sport. There are no days off. No one really realizes that.”

Dahl was the youngest player on the Rockies last summer and doesn’t turn 19 until April 1. He figures being on his own all winter, along with all of the traveling he did during high school with Team USA, helps make up for his youth. He’s a mature 18-year-old and is trying to learn all he can from the major league players this winter.

“It’s really cool, my favorite player, (Boston center fielder) Jacoby Ellsbury, is down there. I talk to him a lot, see what he thinks when he’s hitting and what he does working out,” Dahl said. “I’m trying to gather information, see what they do in the offseason to prepare for the long season.”

He also got some good advice from the players who have reached the big leagues, where Dahl hopes to play one day.

“I’ll ask them, ‘How long did it take you to get to the big leagues?’ ” Dahl said. “They said the one thing you don’t want to do is worry about where you’re at and how fast you move up. You just want to go out and give it your best every day and try to get better every day, and things will take care of themselves.”


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