Go behind the scenes of Sandy's workout routine

January 23rd, 2023

This story was excerpted from Christina De Nicola’s Marlins Beat newsletter. To read the full newsletter, click here. And subscribe to get it regularly in your inbox.

Marlins ace Sandy Alcantara's workout routine has become the stuff of legend.

Sure, Alcantara once was a highly touted prospect with limitless potential. But he didn't evolve into the 2022 National League Cy Young Award winner by accident. Following his first full MLB season in '19, during which he made the NL All-Star team, Alcantara wanted to reach the next level.

"If you want to be like a big guy, or like a big leader, you've got to start working nonstop," Alcantara said. "When you put yourself in the right spot and work hard, and hard with consistency and dedication, you don't need to worry about it because you're there. You don't need to change anything. You've got to keep doing what you're doing."

Since that 2019-20 offseason, Alcantara has executed the Marlins' plan at Pinecrest Strength & Conditioning. President Ron Yacoub, a certified strength and conditioning specialist, and Alcantara first crossed paths during Alcantara's rookie season in '18, when the pitcher visited the then-Marlins rehab consultant with a small abscess on his arm. Yacoub, who helped the late José Fernández rehab from Tommy John surgery, took good care of Alcantara -- something the flamethrower remembered when deciding to train at Yacoub's facility during the offseason.

Once the regular season is over, Alcantara comes in and out in October before ramping things up in November. This winter, he has scheduled that around trips to the Dominican Republic and Cy Young Award-related festivities. He also has had a workout partner: Eury Pérez, MLB Pipeline's No. 3 right-handed pitching prospect. The 19-year-old Pérez, who shares the same agent in Adriel Reyes, wants to follow in Alcantara's footsteps.

"He's a man on a mission, and he's been a man on his mission since we talked that first offseason," Yacoub said of Alcantara. "All kudos to him. He came in with the talent, and now the drive, and it's all him that's done it. We're just keeping the machine moving in a forward direction, and we're lucky to be a part of it."

On a Friday morning in January, Pérez is unable to train because he is sick. That doesn't stop Alcantara from going about his offseason routine. After arm care to get loose, Alcantara is ready to throw. Without Pérez, he turns to one of the facility's other patrons -- former teammate and current Mets right-hander Elieser Hernandez. Alcantara's brother Rafelind, who once signed with the Cardinals, keeps a watchful eye.

It's not a bullpen day, so once Alcantara is done throwing from as far as 105 feet, it's time for the same total body workout he does Monday through Friday, from 9 a.m. to around 1 p.m. Alcantara credits it for his consistency.

While wearing a Sandy's Beach "El Caballo" T-shirt he has cut into a tank, Alcantara makes use of every machine at the facility. Exercises range from squats to shoulder presses to lunges, and the weights depend on the type of lift. He does five sets of 12-15 reps to build his endurance. Before heading out, Alcantara finishes with arm care. "Tití Me Preguntó" blares from a nearby speaker, playing music he streams from his phone. 

"We call it the 'Sandy Workout' because he comes in here, does all his exercises," said Chris Altieri, a doctor of physical therapy who specializes in baseball rehab and performance, "and that's why Sandy is Sandy. He's just grazing around, and he'll spend all day here. He'll talk with everybody here, but he's working the entire time that he's here. There's always a purpose to what he's doing."

Yacoub and his staff, which includes coordinator Richard Jackson, DPT, will keep a watchful eye to ensure Alcantara is using proper form. The routine stays the same -- just with less volume in-season. Alcantara focuses on using his muscles the right way and hitting every muscle group, repeating and knowing when to increase intensity. Over the last two years, the workout has been refined to be tailor-made for Alcantara, who knows his body better than anyone.

"That's my routine," he said. "I don't need to change anything, I don't need to add anything, because I got really good results with my routine since I started getting here. I've got to keep doing my routine, work hard, doing the same every day: in the offseason, during Spring Training and during the season. It's something that I created, and it's something that gives me the result."