Patrick Cooper is sleeping well into the afternoon this winter, but that doesn’t mean he’s hibernating.
The offseason offers little down time for Cooper, a 2007 Boyle County graduate and one of two area athletes currently playing professional baseball. His days and evenings are filled with workouts, and he spends most of his nights working.
He has very little spare time during the few weeks he’ll spend at home before reporting to spring training in February, but he has no complaints.
“Whenever you spend half your year on a set schedule every single day, and then you come (home), it’s kind of crazy,” Cooper said. “Some days I’ve got to lift (weights) real early in the morning, some days I lift at 8 o’clock at night. But it’s really not that tough, either.”
As Cooper prepares for his fourth season of pitching in the Detroit Tigers organization, a typical day might find him working out within an hour or so after his alarm goes off at 2 p.m., either at Morse Baseball Academy or at the Boyle County fairgrounds. Then he might lift weights in the evening at Boyle before driving to Lexington, where he works the graveyard shift at the Amazon.com distribution center four nights a week.
“I have to do that because I have to be able to throw during the day, because they’re up here (at the Morse academy) or they’re over at the fairgrounds at around 3 o’clock every day. So I can’t be working during that time because I don’t have anybody to throw with me,” Cooper said.
Cooper spent most of last season with the Tigers’ Double-A farm team at Erie, where he went 3-10 with a 5.10 earned-run average in 23 games after pitching just one inning at Class A Lakeland.
The right-hander was sent back to Lakeland and subsequently recalled to Erie twice, the last time in late May.
He spent much of the fall training at a Kansas City, Mo., baseball academy where he also spent the previous offseason, then returned home about a month ago to spend time with his family and continue his workouts.
On Saturday, he teamed with Blake Perry, a pitcher in the Arizona Diamondbacks’ farm system, for a one-day camp for young players at the Morse Baseball Academy, and he talked about last season and what he’s doing to be ready when the time comes to head to Florida for spring training:
Question: What is your assessment of the way you pitched last season?
Cooper: “I’d like my numbers to be better, but having a pretty big injury the year before (a forearm strain that sidelined him for almost two months) and the fact that I went all the way through (this) season without missing a day or a start or anything, I’m really happy about that. I feel like for my first year there, being pretty young in that league, I feel like I did all right. Overall, I’m happy with the season. I don’t look back and feel any negative thoughts about it.”
Question: Did your manager or coaches evaluate you at the end of the season?
Cooper: “After our last game, the manager went around and told everyone, ‘I had a good time with you guys. Have a good offseason, and we’ll see you in spring training,’ and that’s about all anybody knows. You don’t even know going into spring training. You get there and you compete for a spot. All the hard work that you do and that I’m doing right now in the offseason is what is going to earn you a spot when you get to spring.”
Question: What are your goals for spring training?
Cooper: “I hope to come in there throwing a little bit harder than they’ve seen. That would be good. But really, I just want to go in there and be consistent. Consistency is what makes you move up, and I want to be consistent and I want to be able to compete. I want to be able to succeed at the Double-A level down there and maybe at least get a crack at Triple-A.”
Question: Do you think you think you’ll be back at Erie to start the season?
Cooper: “If I would guess, I would guess that. I don’t want to, because obviously I want to set my goals high. My goals are to be in Triple-A (Toledo) or the big leagues, but yeah, there’s definitely a big possibility. But I’m going to be the last person to make predictions on what I’m going to do. I’ll let everybody else do that.”
Question: What are your offseason workouts like?
Cooper: “I’ve been doing all my weight training in the high school weight room, which is recently renovated, so that’s really nice. I really enjoy it over there. I’ve been doing a mix of training here (at the Morse academy) and at the fairgrounds, working with the Boyle County team as well over there and with some of the kids in the Sliders (summer team) organization over there. I’ve just kind of been all over the place, which I like. I like to contribute to everybody.”
Question: What are you doing to maintain or improve your arm strength?
Cooper: “I’m doing a new velocity program using weighted balls. They’re doing it here at Morse, and some of the kids at Boyle County are using it, too. It sounds pretty good, some of my buddies in pro ball are taking it, and it’s just a new approach I’m taking this year. Other than that, everything’s the same. The weight training’s the same, the conditioning’s the same. You get out of it what you put into it, and that’s the bottom line with everything.”
Question: What do you try to make sure you do in the short time while you’re home?
Cooper: “The one thing I’d like to fit into my schedule is just to sit on the couch for about three hours and watch a couple movies without having to get up. Just hanging out with my family, going out to eat with my parents, sitting on the couch, that’s what I look forward to.”