Joe Musgrove sees failure and succeeds.

Denver – Joe Masgro was in the pool following his teacher’s instructions, but he and his fellow neophytes were struggling. He had a stomach ache, and his lungs requested a level of air from his brain. Musgrove, the rising ace of the San Diego Pedres, until the last disappointing moment, almost to the breaking point, before they finally came to the air.

Then he went down again, this time for a long time.

It was an underwater training class for athletes called Deep and Fitness, taught by a former Marine in a pool near San Diego. It aims to help participants break down mental barriers, use breathing techniques, and overcome fears and obstacles. Athletes team up to search for underwater treasures, walk on the pool floor with weights, sink with a hand-held artificial torpedo, play four-on-four tackle football, and prepare to push the boundaries. Do other exercises

For Misgro and his teammate Mike Kleinger, who took a series of classes together during the off-season, this was another example of the kind of mental strength conditioning that is always gaining traction in professional sports. Accepting uncomfortable situations and exploding through them.

“It’s very different from what you might expect,” Masgro said in an interview at Coorsfield earlier this month. “I was very nervous the first time there because I didn’t know what we were getting into. You know a lot about yourself in the first two classes. It was great for me to work in a place where I I knew I was going to fail.

Such small failures add to the great successes for Misgrove, who has identified the mental aspect of his art as the area that needs the most attention. With pool exercises and other techniques now part of his repertoire as much as after his sinking and replacement, Masgro is having a career season at the age of 29, which made a great start to 2021, when his Finished with an earnings average of 3.18 and finished first. – Hitter in the history of Pedres – about whom he said he felt a little “flock”.

This year, as Pedres first baseman Eric Hausmer said, Misgrove has gone “to the next level,” and there’s nothing wrong with that. Misgro is 8-1, earning a run average of 2.12 and started the year with 12 quality starts (at least six innings allowing three or fewer runs). It just became the seventh pitcher to open the season with humor.

The series ended somewhat against Philadelphia on Thursday. But Misgro’s brilliant start has helped Pedres start 44-28, the best in franchise history and tops the NL’s top wildcards until Thursday.

When Musgrove and Clevinger arrived for spring training and publicly described their underwater accomplishments during the winter months, they did not believe the program would lead to success. They don’t know for sure yet, but it clearly hasn’t hurt.

“It’s been a master class in pitching,” Clevinger, who has just returned from Tommy John surgery, said of his partner. “He’s doing it all.”

“It’s incredible to see how he commands the field when he’s on the mound,” added Pedres’ outfielder Jorksen Proffer.

A self-described late developer, Misgro has long sought ways to incorporate alternative skills to complement his physical gifts – he stands 6 feet 5 inches and weighs 230 pounds. When he was 15, he practiced the Hoffling martial arts method, named after Gus Hoffling, who trained star pitchers such as Steve Carlton of the Philadelphia Flames in the 1970s, and He worked with other psychic devices.

Misgro said he often asks fellow players, coaches, trainers and others about his favorite techniques, choosing and incorporating whatever fits his style. He can detect useful mental challenges almost anywhere, including jogging in the outdoor area on a hot afternoon and “turning off the release button” while washing dishes.

Even while standing on the sink, doing extremely unusual things, Masgro forces his mind to live in the moment and turn it into a challenge – like a form of self-taught meditation. Despite the movement of the brain, he tries to focus only on cleaning and rinsing, and the skill is transferable. Even the brains of an elite pot can lean towards external ideas, sometimes in the middle of a key bat.

“Like underwater training, it won’t improve your equipment or get you out in a game,” he said. “But it can help you be better prepared, and I always say, luck is with those who are ready.”

Visualization is an important part of Misgrove’s store of mental conditioning, as it is for many elite athletes. But Misgrove does not have in his mind a picture of flawless execution and success. Some pitchers can imagine themselves throwing the best pitch or lifting the championship trophy.

But those mental images, Misgro said, are more imaginative than the real-life approach to sports, with pain in the elbows, slipping of the grip, mounds of mud and opposing batsmen running home.

When Misgrove lies in bed the night before he starts, he often imagines the small failures and obstacles that inevitably occur – a stiff shoulder, a lead-off home run, a base full of runners. When he hears voices opposing the fans, his ears drip with sweat. Eyes

What are you going to do now? How do you get out of it?

When those conditions, or similar, arise, Musgrove has already planned for them. Expect a higher heart rate. The thoughts of panic go away. Practical solutions are used.

“You wake up the next day, and there’s a certain level of pressure that goes away from you, because there’s no longer any fear of the unknown,” Masgro said. “It’s not like you’re obsessed with what could go wrong. You’re ready for anything that gets in your way, good or bad.”

Bad things happened to Misgrove in Chicago early last week. Christopher Morrell, the Cubes’ lead-off batsman, hit a wall at Wrigley Field and was bowled by the fifth pitch. But Misgro, who had begun to feel crowded and sick the night before, imagined that he might feel sick on the mound the next day and that his stone would be rocky.

“The first hitter of the game, the bang, the home run,” Misgro said, “and I’m like, ‘This is exactly what I expected.’

As it turned out, Misgro was probably going through Covid 19, as he had a positive experience the next day. In the past, a pre-game test was guaranteed, but the symptoms were mild. And Masgro was training his mind to fight the obstacles, and like the underwater training, to push himself past the obstacles of the past.

In Chicago that day, he responded to illness and a bad start by allowing just one more run in seven innings. It was a bit of a chore that required 106 pitches. But, of course, Masgro had prepared himself for it.

“We’ve seen him take the ball when he’s sick, when he’s in pain, when he’s not feeling well,” Hosmer said. “That’s what you find in your ace, and it has definitely strengthened itself as our ace.”

During off-season underwater training classes, Misgro learned that when he first started classes, he could extend his time without breathing for about a minute and a quarter.

“Sometimes, you have to get the mind out of the way and let the body do its job,” he said.

As the season draws to a close, Masgro is a candidate, along with Dodgers’ Tony Gonzalez, to start the All-Star Game for the National League. Misgro said he is sitting on a checklist of achievements that he would be honored to reach.

“But ultimately,” he said, “the big picture is to be healthy and still pitching at the end of the year.”

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