Yankees catcher Kyle Higashioka takes Post readers behind the scenes as he tries to stay prepared for the 2020 season amid the coronavirus pandemic. As told to Ken Davidoff.
Thursday would have been my first major league Opening Day. But, to be honest, I didn’t really think about it during the day.
I think over the years I’ve gotten pretty good about only worrying about stuff I can control. I know that right now, my goal is to stay ready for when the season does start. As long as I’m prepared for it, then good things can happen.
I’m staying prepared out here in Bend, Oregon, where I’ve lived for a couple of years now. I got back here on March 17, after the Yankees made it clear that we would have limited access to their facilities. Luckily, my in-laws have a pretty sizable ranch. I’ve got a lot of space to work out and hit with foam balls. I’m doing my catching drills in a barn.
No, there are no animals in the barn when I’m working on my catching. It does smell like hay in there, but that isn’t too bad. We just have a couple of dogs, and there are a couple of bald eagles that have built a nest on one of the trees. We see them flying around all the time. My wife, Alyse, shoots the balls at me out of a mini-Hack Attack pitching machine. I do a little blocking and receiving. I use that for hitting, too.
My offseason trainer allowed me to take a lot of equipment, like kettlebells and a landmine press, home from his gym. And my father-in-law has a bench-press bench. In all, I wind up working out four to five hours a day. It’s kind of like my typical offseason schedule. I didn’t know I was well prepared for something like this, but I was.
The rest of the time, I’m doing standard quarantine activities. Sometimes I play guitar, sometimes I play video games. On the guitar, I think I’m getting sharper, making fewer mistakes. Although my peak guitar ability was a few years ago, when I was living by myself. When you’re married, you don’t want to play guitar a few hours a day.
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My favorite video game is FIFA Ultimate Team. Tommy Kahnle and Adam Ottavino are both FIFA guys, so I talk to them a bunch about that. Sometimes I play Call of Duty, too. Beyond video-game talk, I’m in touch with a lot of my teammates, sometimes one-on-one (I talk with Mike Tauchman a lot), sometimes in a group text.
I know that I’ve got it easy during this time. The average person is having a pretty rough time compared to me. I just hope that we can get this under control soon and get back to as normal as possible, but within a safe time frame. To the fans, I guess I would just say hang in there. Hopefully, at the very least, baseball is going to come back at sometime this year and we can all have that normal, everyday stuff. And we can still have Opening Day.
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