Notes: Technology preventing injury
High-tech 'body map' system locates muscle imbalances
PHOENIX -- When the last of the Brewers' position players took their physicals on Saturday morning, the team's medical staff was focused as much on preventing future problems as identifying current ones.
Since late 2004, the team has utilized a system called the "body map," which involves taking digital photographs of an athlete squatting in front of a grid in various positions. Brewers physical therapist Kenny Patterson uses data from the photographs to identify muscle imbalances that are usually the result of injury or overuse, and he prescribes a program that aims to keep a player healthy through the grind of the season.
"The idea is to decrease risk," Patterson said. "There are always going to be injuries, but if you can decrease that risk, you're ahead."
Patterson looks for posture and alignment. For example, if an athlete's knees bow inward when he poses in a squat, it means the muscles are tight on the inside of the joint and weak on the outside. Data on dozens of points from head to toe is input into a computer program.
Based on that information, Patterson can prescribe a specifically tailored workout regimen to fix imbalances. Players typically see improvements in six to eight weeks.
"Put it this way: I haven't come across a perfect body map yet," Patterson said. "It's an occupational hazard. Think of a right-handed hitter -- it's safe to say that the bulk of their swings are right-handed, and that creates imbalances. You have to always do some extra swings the other way."
The body map system was developed by the National Academy of Sports Medicine. According to a New York Times report, a number of professional sports teams use the body map system, including the Phoenix Suns.
It can also be a useful tool for rehabbing athletes, and Patterson worked extensively this winter with shortstop J.J. Hardy and outfielder Laynce Nix. Hardy had ankle surgery last year, and Nix had foot surgery.
"He's been there since Day 1 when I came down here and started coming out five days a week in the morning," Hardy said of Patterson, who has drawn raves from a number of other players. "The thing I love about him is that no matter how busy he is, he always takes his time with everyone. He never pushes anyone aside to move on to the next guy."
Patterson gives players copies of their photos. Hardy calls the visual aspect of the program a big plus.
"Any time you have visual proof, you're going to work harder to fix it," Hardy said. "It makes it easier to go, 'OK, this is what I need to do.'"
Because most Brewers position players reported early and underwent physicals last week, only a few performed the routine on Saturday. Afterward, manager Ned Yost and owner Mark Attanasio made their annual full-squad speech before the team participated in its first full-squad workout.
Hot tickets: The Brewers sold about 85,000 tickets on Saturday, the first day of regular-season sales, marking the third-highest first-day total in club history. That number would have been even higher, according to vice president of communications Tyler Barnes, had fewer fans switched this winter to partial season-ticket plans. Only about 2,000 Opening Day tickets were available on Saturday, mostly standing-room only.
"To have that many people move into four- and nine-game ticket plans and still sell 85,000 tickets is pretty impressive," Barnes said.
The only way for fans to still get Opening Day tickets is to purchase a nine-game season package or higher. Barnes said the team does not anticipate releasing any tickets for that game, April 2 against the Dodgers at Miller Park.
Fans started camping out at the Miller Park box office on Thursday afternoon, and they endured a snowstorm that dropped six inches of snow on Friday night. Club officials opened the doors at Miller Park at 6:30 a.m. CT on Saturday, two-and-a-half hours before the box office opened.
"It was unbelievable," Barnes said.
Work in progress: Brewers second baseman Rickie Weeks, who is taking it slow because of a sore wrist, took 35 swings in the batting cage on Saturday morning but probably will not be 100 percent by the start of Cactus League games on Thursday.
Weeks did not participate when hitters took their first hacks against live pitching on Saturday, but he has been able to participate in all of the team's defensive and baserunning drills. Yost stopped short of predicting that Weeks would not play when the Brewers and A's square off at Maryvale on Thursday.
"I'm not saying that," Yost said. "We might hit him eighth, let him bunt one at-bat and let him get in four innings defensively. We're not holding him back."
Weeks had surgery last August to repair a painful tendon in his right wrist.
Last call: A two-page list of team rules was distributed to players on Saturday. Rule No. 1: Don't be late. ... The club's media guide also came out, and players eagerly checked their bios after the workout. The guide, which features Yost, Chris Capuano, Prince Fielder and Bill Hall on the cover in their 1982 throwback uniforms, will be available to fans for $12. ... Infielders Ozzie Chavez and Hernan Iribarren were in camp in time for Saturday's full-squad workout. They were the final two arrivals.
Adam McCalvy is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.