Parks to rec: Ballplayers' offseason hobbies

Parks to rec: Ballplayers' offseason hobbies

When the offseason arrives, Major Leaguers leave the ballpark behind and spend their leisure time pursuing their other passions.

The four months that comprise baseball's offseason are precious. Although time is still at a premium as players begin to prepare for the season ahead, the recreational opportunities seem endless.

As Pirates ace Gerrit Cole said, "The offseason always ends up being shorter than you expect. After Thanksgiving, workouts take up the majority of my time."

With the winter quickly approaching, MLB.com writers asked players about the ways they spend their time away from the diamond.

Cole
Newport Beach, Calif., native Cole loves to surf at some of the country's best beaches whenever baseball takes a break.

"I've got a few different boards: some short ones, some 6-foot-2's, 6-foot-4's," said the 25-year-old. "And a couple of single-fin retros.

"I've surfed on the North Shore [in Hawaii] a couple of times and all over California, of course. I'm going to try to get to NorCal this winter. It's just something I do to relax."

As for whether or not his team supports the hobby, Cole defers: "I don't know. You're not going to get me in trouble, are you?"

Andrew McCutchen
Pirates center fielder McCutchen has dubbed himself a "creature of habit," and he admitted it's his affinity for repetition that drew him to bowling.

"As a hitter, you like to do things the same: have the same approach, stance, swing," Cutch said. "Bowling is similar. The more consistent [your roll is], the better you are. My high game is 279 at my hometown bowling alley. If I go consistently, I average about 180."

But the 2013 National League Most Valuable Player does have one stipulation about his leisure activity of choice: "[I've] got my own balls, my own shoes. I don't like my feet to be in something other people wore."

Matt Holliday
Sports are a year-round activity in Holliday's household; he and his family relocated to Tequesta, Fla., near the Cardinals' Spring Training complex so that his four children could play sports nonstop and the Cards' outfielder could have an opportunity to coach.

"I'm one of the three coaches," Holliday said of his experience with oldest son Jackson's Little League team. "It's just fun being there. With 11-year-olds, there isn't a whole lot of instruction. They just enjoy playing."

Almost as much as Holliday enjoys coaching.

Jeremy Guthrie
Royals right-hander Guthrie makes it a point to go on a special trip each offseason. In past years, he's been to Spain, Paris, Japan and China. Before the 2015 campaign, his destination of choice was Panama.

"I got to hang out with [former Royals lefty] Bruce Chen in Panama. And in Japan, I met some of my relatives for the first time," says Guthrie, who is part-Japanese. "The Great Wall was on my bucket list. And Paris, well, that's my favorite city in the world."

Africa is tops on the Oregon native's future must-visit list.

Michael Morse
Pirates first baseman Morse has a passion for collecting and restoring classic cars.

"I like old cars compared to new cars," says Morse. "The old cars are made differently. To me, it's like American muscle.

"My wife and I enjoy going to car shows and looking around. If I see something, I'll go for it. I get under the hood, try to do my own repairs. It's mainly a way to relax."

Matt Belisle
Off the mound, 12-year veteran pitcher Belisle feels most at home in the country. The Austin, Texas, native, whose great-grandfather was a well-known cattle rancher, owns a 993-acre ranch of his own just east of Abilene.

"I sure do like the culture," Belisle said. "It's a very simple life. There's a grounded work ethic."

But growing up around the job has also made Belisle cautious.

"As wonderful as it is, it's dangerous. I want to play baseball for a long time, so full-time cattle ranching can wait."