By Thomas Ketko
DUNEDIN, Fla. - Connor Law is determined to make the most of his good old days while he’s still living in them.
The Lindenwood University graduate doesn’t know if his time this year at spring training will lead to a chance to play short-season ball, much less an eventual shot with the Toronto Blue Jays, but he hasn’t let that faze him.
“I just want to play the game that I love for as long as I can,” said Law, sitting in the sun at the clubhouse at the Bobby Mattick Training Complex.
In his four years as a college pitcher he amassed 154 strikeouts and held opponents to a .261 batting average in 184⅔ innings over 68 games. That included 12 starts, two complete games, one shutout, and 15 saves.
To cap his career off, he was recognized with a Mid-America Intercollegiate Athletics Association Scholar-Athlete award for academic and athletic achievement.
But despite a respectable first season split between Toronto’s Appalachian and Gulf Coast League affiliates in which he posted a 1.54 earned-run average across 28⅓ innings pitched, he knew he had more to do to turn his passion for the sport into the kind of dream that comes true.
The question was how?
For Law, the process started with making sure his body was in the best place it could possibly be. Over the offseason he returned home to Chatham Ill., to work with longtime personal trainer Chad Marshik.
“My goals for myself were to build better hip mobility, better explosiveness, and get bigger while still maintaining a good weight, body fat percentage, and all that,” Law said.
Increasing mass while maintaining mobility and explosiveness isn’t easy. But with Marshik’s guidance Law made it happen.
“We both killed it this offseason. He’s a phenomenal guy,” Law said. “We did high-intensity interval weight training. Nutrition was really strict, but I got up to a weight I’d never been at before while keeping the same vertical and broad jump.”
It’s telling that Law’s first thought when discussing the improvements he made to his body during the offseason was to thank the man who helped him get there, and his appreciation for the people around him doesn’t stop there.
Law also credits top Blue Jays prospect Nate Pearson for his development on the field.
“I asked him a lot of questions in the offseason. He’s super helpful,” Law said of their conversations. “Just getting to pick his brain about how to handle yourself, when I should start throwing in the offseason, that kind of thing.”
However there’s more to pitching than just raw physical strength, a fact that isn’t lost on Law.
“I just need to slow everything down,” he said of his biggest mental hurdles in the game. “I’m trying to slow my roll, take a breath, and just focus on what I need to focus on instead of rush through it.”
It’s an approach he’s already consciously putting into practice at spring training and, coupled with his physical growth, could help him make a leap during the 2018 season.
That’s the plan at least. But whether he makes it to The Show or not, Law is adamant that what matters most is what the sport has given him along the way.
“I mean, at the end of the day I get to do this (spring training) for at least another month,” he says, holding his hands out wide to the field in front of him. “I don’t know if it gets better than that.”