Before the 2002 season rightfielder Jermaine Dye signed a
three-year, $32 million contract with the Athletics, which was
then the largest in franchise history. But in the first two years
he hit a combined .227 with 28 home runs in 196 games. Due to
make $11.7 million this season, which is nearly 20% of Oakland's
$59.4 million payroll, the 30-year-old rightfielder is finally
playing like he deserved that rich contract.
At week's end Dye led the American League in RBIs (14) and was
tied for the lead in home runs (six). He had also hit safely in
each of his first 12 games. Last year Dye, who went on the
disabled list twice and missed 80 games because of injuries to
his right knee and right shoulder, hit a career-low .172 with
four home runs in 221 at bats. "I wiped it clean," he says of
2003. "It was one of those years, the first time I've ever had a
year where you just throw it away."
Over the winter Dye moved to Arizona to train with renowned
fitness guru Mark Verstegen, who also worked with Dye's teammate
Eric Chavez, as well as Red Sox shortstop Nomar Garciaparra.
Dye's workouts were based less on weight training and more on
strength and flexibility. He has maintained his 230-pound playing
weight from last season, but his body fat has dropped from 14% to
about 10%. "I feel a lot stronger now," says Dye, "like I did in
2000 with the Royals, my All-Star year. I feel the ball is going
a little extra off my bat."