Coffey holds the sugar
Jell-O junkie slims down
By Josh Katzowitz
Post staff reporter
WINTER HAVEN, Fla. - Todd Coffey loves Jell-O. Coffey can't get enough of it. He would eat it all day and slurp it down all night if he could. He'll mix strawberry Jell-O with fruit cocktail, and Coffey will be transported to his own personal heaven.
The problem with that, however, is that the Reds reliever chows it down before he goes to sleep. It's hard to lose weight when you're consuming massive amounts of Jell-O just before your head hits the pillow.
So Coffey has a new rule now. No Jell-O - no food at all, in fact - after 8 p.m.
Separate a man from the tasty gelatinous snack he loves, and you've got a man who's trying his best to get into shape. His new rule - well, that and more cardiovascular exercise - seems to be working. Coffey, with a good chance to make the team, has lost about 10 pounds since last season.
"I don't do anything special," Coffey said when asked to describe his weight-loss regimen. "It's pretty simple. Extra cardio work and not eating at night."
Must be tough, though. You know, without the Jell-O.
"I used to love Jell-O," said Coffey, who pitched a scoreless inning in the Reds' 9-4 loss to Cleveland Sunday. "I ate tons of Jell-O at night. Jell-O is good for you, but not tons of it."
Without that extra Jell-O in his belly, Coffey has been effective this spring. In 11 appearances, the most by a Reds pitcher, Coffey is 1-0 with a 3.27 ERA and is nearly a lock to make the squad.
But that's not how Coffey sees it. He still thinks he's competing for a bullpen job.
"I don't see myself as a lock, not at all," Coffey said. "I'm doing the same thing I did last year. I'm working my butt off to make the team. Obviously, last year, I was nervous, but I'm still trying to make the club. There's always going to be stress in this game. There's always going to be butterflies and jitters. The day you don't have that, it's a problem. You become complacent, and then you're in trouble."
Partially, it's why Coffey, during the offseason, decided to lose some weight. Though the 6-foot-5 Forest City, N.C., native says he doesn't feel any different, his body and face appear a little leaner.
"I feel the same," Coffey said. "Honestly, I do. I guess where I'm really going to see a difference is at the end of the season. I won't be as worn out, my body won't be as tired. During the season, you might lose weight. But if you try to lose weight during the season, you lose muscle too. That's the last thing you want to do."
The decision for a pitcher to lose weight is an interesting debate. Some, like Coffey, feel they could benefit by dropping a few pounds. Others, like reliever Kent Mercker, like to feel a little more heft on their bodies.
"I know I pitch better with a little extra weight - I feel like I've got a little more body to work with," Mercker said. "But for Coff, who's battled with that a little bit, it's a good indication of how hard he's worked."
While Coffey will say otherwise, his rookie season last year was solid. In 57 appearances, he recorded a 4-1 record with a 4.50 ERA and his first big-league save. His performance impressed Mercker.
"He showed me a lot of confidence last year," Mercker said. "When you have the stuff he has, that's the one thing you look for. That's the intangible you can't teach. Guys who have superior stuff sometimes are afraid to use it or they overthink it. Coffey just took it and ran with it. He went out there and said, 'This is what I do, and I'm going to do it.' "
Aside from the weight loss, Coffey also put in extra time in Sarasota this winter. By the time most of Cincinnati's pitchers and catchers reported, Coffey had been in town a month.
He arrived Jan. 15, just wanting to work out, get his arm in shape and lay off the late-night snacks.
"The mind-set in the offseason was to get myself in the best shape I could be in to give myself a chance," Coffey said. "Basically, I worked out every day, lost some weight and tuned up my body a little bit. (Last year), I wasn't in as good a shape as I am now. It's harder to stay in the big leagues than anything. You have to keep working. That's what I'm trying to do."