BRADENTON, Fla. – Ke’Bryan Hayes is a little heavier and feeling a lot healthier.
The Pittsburgh Pirates third baseman said Wednesday he has added 10-15 pounds following offseason workouts, Hayes was hampered by a lower back issue for much of last season.
“It was figuring out what I needed to do for my back, getting a team (of trainers) around me to help me address some problems and ultimately got to feeling better and figuring out what I needed to do in the weight room to not aggravate it and stuff like that,” Hayes said Wednesday at the Pirates’ spring training camp.
Hayes’ hitting was hindered by the back problem in 2022. He batted just .244/.314/.345 with seven home runs in 136 games, though he did steal 20 bases.
It is too early in spring training for Hayes to know exactly how much his new training regiment will help. However, he is confident of being in a better place physically than last season.
“Every year when you come to spring, you feel more refreshed, you feel stronger and stuff like that,” the 26-year-old Hayes said. “Going into this year, I have more knowledge of what I need to do in the training room, what to do lifting-wise, being able to keep my weight on me, kind of like how it was in the minor leagues, getting back to that to 210-(pound) range and feeling a lot stronger.”
Despite the back pain, Hayes had another strong defensive season last year. His 24 defensive runs saved were the most in the major leagues at any position.
However, Hayes did not win the National League Gold Glove award at third base. Instead, the St. Louis Cardinals’ Nolan Arenado received it for the 10th straight year.
It probably didn’t hurt Arenado that the Cardinals won the National League Central while the Pirates finished last in the division for a fourth straight season.
“All I can do is play to the best of my ability to help my team win games,” Hayes said. “I’m not really worried about individual award stuff. I want to get to the playoffs, eventually playing in a World Series. All that other stuff just comes with it. The No. 1 thing we’re trying to do over here is create a winning culture and get back into the playoffs.”