Dodgers host PLAY campaign event for kids

Participants learn about nutrition and fitness from team's staff

Dodgers host PLAY campaign event for kids

LOS ANGELES -- A group of around 60 kids got a chance to learn about some of the hard work and nutrition that goes into being a Major League Baseball player on Saturday at Dodger Stadium as part of the National PLAY Campaign.

Dodgers third baseman Justin Turner, head trainer Neil Rampe, assistant trainers Nate Lucero and Thomas Albert, and strength and conditioning coach Brandon McDaniel offered advice to members of the Los Angeles Boys and Girls Club and MLB's Urban Youth Academy in Compton. Each led stations focusing on different aspects of fitness.

"A big thing is to get them in good habits early, so that's their base of reference," Rampe said. "It's always easier to learn something new than to have to unlearn something to move forward. Nowadays, the kids are asking really good questions and they're informed on stuff. I think it comes down to the fundamentals of quality nutrition, quality activity in their lives, quality sleep."

Lucero and Albert led sessions in the team's batting cages, McDaniel led a stretching and agility session, and Rampe explained the basics of nutrition and proper diet. Also offering advice were Justin Matlage of the Henry Schein Cares Foundation on training and Brian Parker of the Taylor Hooton Foundation on the dangers of performance-enhancing drugs. Both foundations sponsor the campaign along with MLB Charities.

The Taylor Hooton Foundation was founded in 2004 in honor of Hooton, a 17-year-old from Plano, Texas, who took his own life after using anabolic steroids. Hooton's family started the foundation to limit the growing number of teenagers using steroids. The foundation has programs with all 30 teams and sports Clayton Kershaw as its player representative from the team.

"It's crucial for prevention," Parker said. "The numbers are now telling us we've got five, six percent of kids getting involved with steroids at some point in their lives. That's one out of every 14, 15 kids. The earlier you can educate, the better, because the age of initiation has gone all the down to 15. They're starting the stuff in high school and sometimes middle schools."

However, the teacher the kids were understandably the most excited for was Turner, who ran a 20-minute question-and-answer session on all aspects of his career and the Dodgers. There were relatively few questions on health and fitness though, as the kids had more pressing questions about Turner and their favorite team.

Turner's first question was, who is better, him or Corey Seager, to which Turner promptly answered Seager. He named Felix Hernandez as the toughest pitcher he has ever faced, said carne asada was his favorite food, confirmed he has hit a home run before, and said he would love to stay with the Dodgers when his free agency hits this offseason.

If there was a general message from Turner, it was the importance of trusting a process and not letting bad results affect mentality or nerves. While nutrition didn't come up too often, Turner did recall his own experiences with it after the session.

"I didn't really start learning a whole lot about [nutrition] until I came here and I got with Brandon [McDaniel] and these guys," Turner said. "I do think it's important the more aware we get kids to be at an earlier age, the better off I think our entire country is going to be."

Jack Baer is a reporter for MLB.com based in Los Angeles. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.