Saturday, December 17, 2016

Off-season Check In: LHP Zach Morris

Zach Morris, image- Jay Floyd
Last season, lefty reliever Zach Morris had an outstanding campaign with the Class A Lakewood BlueClaws.  In 43 appearances in his first full season as a pro, the 23-year-old posted an 8-3 record with five saves and a 2.57 ERA while sporting a 7.4 K/9 mark.

Morris was drafted in the 24th round out of Maryland by the Phillies last year.

I spoke with six-foot-five 245-pounder last week about his off-season routine, how he stays busy during the fall and winter months, plus more.  Read ahead for that full interview.
 

- How long do you take off from picking up a baseball once the season ends?

I haven't thrown since I've been home.  They usually give us a good two months for guys that aren't playing winter ball and stuff.  But I think it picks up toward the end of next week I think.  I gotta look at (my schedule).  

- You clearly have a time frame in mind, so is that the workout routine that is mandated by the Phillies?  Is that what you're going by?

Yeah.  100-percent, yeah! 

- I know there's something online that you can log into and access the plans and schedules and things the team wants you to work on.  What can you share about that?

It's awesome.  It's an app right on your phone.  Every day you're supposed to work out, you click on it and sign in and it's got what they want us doing every day, so when I go to the gym I just log in an run through that.  It's got us doing arm care and everything and getting whatever the day has- lower body, squatting, or upper body with TRX stuff.  It's a really convenient app.  It's real easy to use.

- And what would be included in the arm conditioning that you mentioned? 

It's all the same stuff we do during the season.  Whether it''s tubing or six pack stuff or activities that we do during the season to keep our arms in shape and conditioned for preventing injuries and stuff, so it's all the same.

- When you mention tubing and six pack stuff, what are those exactly?

Tubing is a routine they stress.  It's 12 different exercises with a tube.  And the six packs are when you're laying flat on your stomach on a table and you do-- there's different ways you position your arms and you hold it for, like, depending on what the set is, usually for about 10 seconds, you can do it with or without weights and it's a really good workout for your arms and shoulders.  I love it.  I've done it for about six years now.

- When throwing begins, you would need more space than a regular gym may offer.  What facilities will you use to do that work?  Will you be able to go back to your college, Maryland, at all?

Honestly, I've been doing it all over because there's a bunch of guys in the area that I've been throwing with.  I mean, I've got a good relationship with a lot of coaches around here.  I mean, everybody's calling and they want me to help work their camps, so I have access to just about anywhere that has enough room to throw around here.  So, definitely, there's some good relationships that I've built when I was young and it's a good relationship that I have now.  Whether it's a high school, I can obviously go to Maryland whenever I wanted.  My high school, all the indoor facilities around here.  It's good that I'm not just held down to one area.

- I want to touch on your season last year.  When we last spoke at length, you were in the midst of a great stretch of scoreless appearances and all that.  You didn't finish the season with that same output.  Was there anything that changed or were there just some less solid outings which happened because it's baseball?

No, I felt great.  There's nothing-- in my view it was the same as I was all year.  Maybe other than one or two outings, but I mean, at the end of the day it's baseball.  It happens.  You can't be perfect every time.  

If you don't fail you're never going to succeed because you don't know how to.  You just go out there-- there was maybe one outing where I was like, 'Damn.  That's not me.  I'm better than that.'  I mean, you just think about it that night, wake up the next day, flush it and go from there. 

- Is there anybody from the Phillies organization that you've stayed closely in touch with since the season ended?

We have a group chat, all the American guys from Lakewood.  The thing will go off every other day and it's cool keeping in touch with the guys.  And I Snapchat back and forth and actually Luke Leftwich, he's got family in northern Virginia.  He came to town (a few) weeks ago for the Sunday night Redskins game. 

So, he came up and I took him out in D.C. and he came to the football game and we had a good time there.  So, it was cool to see him.

- Do you hold down any job during the off-season, whether it's coaching, working clinics or otherwise?

Yeah, I've actually been doing electrical work with my girlfriend's father.  That's what I'm doing now.  It's definitely a cool skill to learn and just something to keep busy.  I like doing it.  Then, obviously, with baseball camps and clinics and stuff, I've been working a whole bunch of them around here.  And then, yeah, it's a good way to keep busy.

- For spring training, there are plenty of guys from northern states that may go down to Florida early to escape the cold weather.  Will you go down early at all?

Well, my college Maryland, they play at Brighthouse Field in a round robin tournament the second week of the season.  So, I'm probably going to drive down and keep my car down there for spring training and what not, because my parents will be going, because my brother is a junior at Maryland, so it'll be cool to go see them play at Brighthouse Field. 

- Your brother is on the team?  What's his name?

Yeah, Justin Morris.  He's a catcher!

- Sweet.  That's cool to have a battery combo in the family with him catching and you pitching.  Did you guys play together much?

Yeah, my senior year in high school was actually his freshman year and he was a starting catcher on varsity and he had a very good freshman year.  And then, I got to pitch to him a couple times at Maryland last year, which was my last year.  So, that was pretty damn cool to be there pitching in a game in college to your little brother.  It was definitely a cool moment.
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