SCOTTSDALE – Superstitions have been a part of sports lore forever. Baseball players know that stepping on the foul lines is bad luck, talking to pitchers during a no-hitter is banned and urinating on your hands makes them tougher.
OK, that last one is not true, but former MLB outfielder Moises Alou certainly believed in it throughout the entirety of his 17 seasons and never put on a pair of batting gloves as a result.
Some teams have even gone as far as implementing strange antics to help their own players. The 2000s New York Yankees teams, spurred by Jason Giambi, started giving slumping players a gold thong to wear underneath their uniforms. Somehow, this appeared to end slumps more often than not.
Although the Diamondbacks do not have a slump-busting prop going around the clubhouse in 2023 as of yet, some players possess superstitious beliefs and special routines before games.
Utility infielder Jake Hager is one of those players.
“I have a mobility and cage routine that I do before games. The cage routine is seeing some velo(city), just to start feeling good, so it’s not a lot of swings,” Hager said. “I always get out there 10 minutes before stretching to sit in the dugout to visualize, and then I go out and play the game.”
Starting third baseman Josh Rojas sticks to a routine, but only under certain circumstances.
“If I have a good game, I’ll do the same thing the next day. If I don’t, I come up with something new. When it’s (going) good, it’ll be the same songs, same pregame routine, what I do in the cage, workout before the game – if it works I keep it,” Rojas said.
While Hager and Rojas are position players who stick to a pregame routine, reliever Zach McAllister does the same thing in the hours leading up to taking the mound.
“When I get here I like to get a little sweat going and do some visualizing and make sure I’m ready for the game,” McAllister said. “It stays the same for me, good or bad. Other guys would say our issue is usually what we’re wearing.”
While these three Diamondbacks believe that a regimented pregame routine or ritual will actually improve in-game performance, others are not so sure, including catcher P.J. Higgins.
“I don’t really do anything specific, I just kind of strap up, go out there and do my job,” Higgins said.
First baseman/outfielder Seth Beer doesn’t buy into superstitions either. Instead, Beer turns to his faith before games.
“I say a prayer, but I know a lot of guys do,” Beer said. “The only thing that I really do is I get dressed the same way, but I’m not actively doing anything to try and play better.”
Left-handed pitcher Kyle Nelson takes a different approach. While others do more physical activity, Nelson is one of the players who likes to relax before games.
“The physical preparation and stuff is kind of boring so I mostly just take a nap before each game,” Nelson said with a laugh. “I try to toe the fine line between being regimented, but not needing to be superstitious to perform.”
Even the least superstitious Diamondback players have at least some sort of routine pregame whether it be praying, naps or just showing up to the ballpark ready to go.
Arizona’s players are not as extravagant with their pregame rituals compared to some from around the league. Sticking to a regiment is an important part for players leading up to the games, and the Diamondbacks hope these routines give them a boost toward their first playoff appearance since 2017.