|The legend of Mike Aviles’ calves||02.20.12 at 10:28 pm ET|
FORT MYERS, Fla. — There aren’t too many days in a baseball season — even in spring training — where shorts are the standard issue for a workout. But Monday, that was the case, with whichever Red Sox choosing to participate in voluntary workouts donning red shorts to go along with what was typically a gray t-shirt.
It left Mike Aviles counting the days until baseball pants could be worn again.
With the usual baseball garb, the Red Sox shortstop can usually glide through his days without noticing the conversation-starter that has buzzed around virtually every clubhouse he has been in throughout his baseball-playing plays — Aviles has unwordly big calves. (See accompanying photo.)
“My dad has big legs, my brother, my sister. It runs in my family. It’s like a known thing in our family. The first thing you look for when the baby comes out is, you look for the calves,” he said Monday. “You know exactly whose kid that is.”
When Aviles was traded to the Red Sox last summer, the immediate buzz around the clubhouse wasn’t regarding the infielder’s playing abilities, but rather the uniqueness of his leg muscles. And it wasn’t just members of the Sox who took note.
“Orlando Cabrera would always say all the time, ‘I don’t understand why you don’t wear those pants up. If I had those calves I would wear them up all the time.’ I told him it was because everybody looks at them all the time and asks me about them, so I just wear pants all the time,” he explained.
But the truly fascinating part about Aviles’ unique physical stature is the road he has taken to get to this point. It is one that leaves inquiring minds in disbelief.
“In all honesty, I don’t workout my calves, ever, because if I work out they’ll just get bigger,” he said. “I’m not lying to you. I don’t do anything with my calves. They would just get bigger and they’re already big. Ever since I was in Little League, it is the first thing everybody notices. When I was younger, before I got to college, I was always skinny. I had always been just bones and huge calves. There would be this skinny kid running around with big calves, and that was me until I started growing into my body.
“That’s the first thing everybody always tells me. They say, ‘Nice calves. Are those real?’ I go to the gym at home and guys who are doing body-building ask, ‘Are those real? What do you do? Did you have implants?’ I’m like, ‘I promise you, you can shadow me in this gym and I’ll not do any calf exercises.’ My mom and my dad have big legs. In our family we have strong, muscular legs. Nobody notices the rest of my legs because all they see is the calves. … Now you see why I wear my pants down low.”
Aviles leg muscles are so developed, he explained, that he can’t wear certain style of jeans, and when he does buy a pair it has to be a size 36 waist even though his waist is only 32 inches.
And even though Aviles doesn’t incorporate his calves into workouts, he has managed to maintain a better overall fitness level over the years. In 2008, the last time the former Royal played shortstop on a regular basis, he weighed 210 pounds while maintaining 13 percent body fat. Now, with his latest opportunity to become an everyday shortstop upon him, Aviles tilts the scales at 205 with nine percent body fat.
“I’m actually ligthter now because believe or not back then I never watched what I ate. I ate whatever I wanted and didn’t care until I got hurt and then I really took a whole new focus on my career,” said Aviles, referencing his Tommy John surgery in 2009. ” I had never been hurt before so I didn’t realize why it was important to take care of myself.”
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