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Yanks set to climb to top with hill exercises

Club constructed 'Mount Krause' at spring complex to help with conditioning
MLB.com @BryanHoch

TAMPA, Fla. -- This year, Spring Training is going to be an uphill climb for the Yankees -- quite literally.

At the urging of Matt Krause, the team's strength and conditioning coordinator, the club constructed a large hill on a back diamond of the George M. Steinbrenner Field complex. It has a 30-yard incline of about nine degrees and measures about 10 feet tall at its highest point.

TAMPA, Fla. -- This year, Spring Training is going to be an uphill climb for the Yankees -- quite literally.

At the urging of Matt Krause, the team's strength and conditioning coordinator, the club constructed a large hill on a back diamond of the George M. Steinbrenner Field complex. It has a 30-yard incline of about nine degrees and measures about 10 feet tall at its highest point.

The sod-covered creation rose in an area that was previously an extra bullpen and is now being used for a variety of conditioning exercises, including speed work and agility. The players who charge up it on a daily basis quickly welcomed it with a nickname: "Mount Krause."

Tweet from @BryanHoch: Another look at what the Yankees call "Mount Krause," the large running hill installed by their strength coach pic.twitter.com/Y3ZsLMPo1j

"This is just something that I believe in," Krause said. "It's something that I've seen work. Listen, my job is to get guys to work. I know you can't jog up a hill, or even if you want to, there's always work involved. My job is just to make sure the intensity is right at all times."

Krause said that he brought the idea with him when he left the Reds and joined the Yankees prior to the 2014 season. The hill was one of the requests that he made shortly after his hiring, and manager Joe Girardi said that he has no concerns about possible injuries.

"You could argue he was the greatest running back of all time, and that's how he trained: Walter Payton," Girardi said. "He trained on a hill. Obviously, it's different, but I don't think they're doing things that are dangerous. It's not like we're skiing down it."

On Sunday afternoon, a group of pitchers that included Dellin Betances, Ivan Nova, Michael Pineda and Luis Severino lined up for several reps in front of Girardi and Krause, taking off when signaled and sprinting to the top before walking back.

Tweet from @BryanHoch: This spring is an uphill climb for the #Yankees ... literally. pic.twitter.com/PybWIPTUuB

Betances said that he used to run steeper hills in the Dominican Republic, so he felt right at home.

"I think for me, I feel like you get more strength on your lower body running up a hill," Betances said. "I think sprints in general help us generate more velo and more strength. Something different is always cool. It's the first time I've seen that."

Catcher Brian McCann said that he has already used the hill, and the rest of the position players will soon follow suit when they assemble for the first full-squad workout on Thursday.

"It's awesome for your legs and lower back without putting weights on and doing squats, getting a great workout and good for agility," McCann said. "I don't like putting a bunch of weight on my back. I'd rather do controlled lunges, stuff like that. To do it up a hill with more resistance is really good."

The hill took about a month to construct during the winter and is comprised mostly of clay, with some dirt mixed in to help with rain water. When the Yankees go north, it will be utilized by Minor Leaguers with Class A Advanced Tampa and with the Yankees' extended spring clubs.

While players may not always be crazy about running drills, Krause said the reception has been overwhelmingly positive.

"It's not going to be perfect every day, but for the most part, the guys know if it's going to be good for them, they're going to do it," Krause said.

Bryan Hoch is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @bryanhoch, on Facebook and read his MLBlog, Bombers Beat.

This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

New York Yankees