Wilson, Zito attacking winter with vigor

Wilson, Zito attacking winter with vigor

SAN FRANCISCO -- Brian Wilson and Barry Zito have found a way to avoid the tedium of offseason workouts.

The pair of Giants pitchers, who are rooming together this winter at Zito's West Hollywood home in Los Angeles, found a novel site for their "long-toss" games of catch, now that they're throwing at a distance of approximately 230 feet.

They'll often trek up a road from Zito's house into the hills and stand on opposite ends of a canyon. So it's obvious what happens if one of their throws falls short or somebody can't hold onto a toss. "The ball's gone," Wilson said Thursday during a visit to AT&T Park. "We lost about six balls one day."

Lately, the landscape has grown slightly more treacherous. "There's this huge tree," Wilson said. "The branches seem like they're getting lower and lower each day, so the trajectory of our throws is getting lower."

Also, the downtown L.A. skyline and the Pacific Ocean are visible from their perches.

"It's a great view," Wilson said. "And every once in a while we'll switch it up and throw on the beach."

Wilson and Zito have done much more than take the scenic approach to exercise. Known for his hard-driving regimen even before he became a National League All-Star and saved 41 games last year, Wilson prompted Zito to maintain the same six-day-per-week workout routine since Nov. 1.

As Wilson explained, Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays are devoted to specific muscle groups. Tuesdays feature plyometrics that refine the body's fast-twitch muscles. Thursdays are for yoga and Saturdays are devoted to cardiovascular work in the form of kickboxing.

Wilson, who formerly cooked for himself, opted to commission a cook who prepares the five meals a day -- each with the proper balance of carbohydrates, fats and proteins -- that he and Zito must devour to supplement their exercise.

Wilson said that Zito has been "pretty gung-ho" from the outset about the exercise program, which ideally will help the left-hander improve upon the 21-30 record he has compiled in his first two Giants seasons.

"I don't know what kind of workouts he used to [do], but I know this kind of strength training is very new to him," Wilson said. "And he has adapted quite well. Significant gains. I don't see it hurting anybody. He looks better. You may not be able to say that a workout can make you pitch better, but he has a 'six-pack' now, so he's got that going."

Wilson worked out on Thanksgiving and Christmas, proving that he remains as intense as ever. He related that the Thanksgiving feast placed before him didn't tempt him much.

"I withheld on all the food," Wilson said. "I knew what calories I had to take. It's not like it's not fun for me. What's not fun is smashing garlic potatoes, eating a lot of tryptophan turkey, having squash souffle and then the feeling afterward when you're watching your favorite football team lose and you're just sitting there in this coma -- 'Why did I eat so much?' I don't like that feeling."

On Christmas Day, Wilson got the workout itch once he finished opening presents.

"You've still got the rest of the day," he said.

Chris Haft is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.