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This 22-year-old bottle rocket is already one of the best shortstops in the major leagues. Last season, Rodriguez hit .358 with 36 home runs and 123 runs batted in. No shortstop has ever enjoyed a better season at the plate. Gosh, could there be any conceivable link between those gaudy numbers and his dedication to consistent training.

"There’s a direct connection between those power numbers and my weight training, diet and overall superior level of physical conditioning," says Rodriguez. "I’d say those factors were about 70% of the reason for my success. While other players started fading late in the season, I was still getting bursts of energy from my training. I was making improvements with bat speed as the season progress, and that had a lot to do with being in shape; I could really feel the difference."

To continue his ever-increasing assault on major-league pitching, Rodriguez enlisted Miami-based personal trainer and IFBB pro fitness competitor Minna Lessig [featured in this month’s "Hot Bodies"] to assist with his off-season conditioning program. "The goal with Alex is to Keep him both flexible and strong," says Lessig. "I have him lift with lighter weights, go through a whole sequence of ab exercises to ensure trunk stability, and we also do sprints on the track and plyometric exercises like squat jumps off boxes to train for explosive strength and quickness."

Can Rodriguez improve on those phenomenal ‘97 numbers by getting in even better condition? "Yeah, I’ll keep improving and working hard until the Mariners win the World Series and I’ve accomplished all my personal goals in the sport."

We’ll let the American League pitchers know that it’s going to be a long, painful summer!

Resistance training: Rodriguez lifts three times a week in a split routine such as this one, doing three sets of 12-15 reps for all exercises: chest and back (day one), lower body (day two), shoulders, biceps and triceps (day five).

Cardio: Sprinting in the morning; distance running in the evening. Machine training includes 35 minutes on the bike, treadmill or stair-climber (if he can’t run on the track).

Nutrition: He eats 4-5 meals a day, heavy on carbs in the morning and primarily protein in the evening.

Resistance training: Rodriguez lifts with lighter weights and high reps three days a week.

Cardio: 20 minutes on the bike, 4-5 days per week.

Nutrition: "After a night game, I’ll drink a protein shake instead of filling up on a lot of food that won’t digest quickly," he says. "I’ll make up for not eating at night by having a big breakfast the following morning with a lot of complex carbs."

I am NOT affiliated with the New York Yankees. I am just a fan. I am not Derek Jeter or Alex Rodriguez or any other member of the Yankee ballclub. This site is mainly for entertainment purposes only.