MLB.com Columnist

Alyson Footer

In offseason, Aggies' gym is 'Club Naquin'

In offseason, Aggies' gym is 'Club Naquin'

COLLEGE STATION, Texas -- One of the most accomplished athletes to emerge from Texas A&M University's baseball program, Tyler Naquin isn't quite just one of the guys when he works out in the weight room with current Aggie players.

Sure, he blends in well with a dozen or so athletes who congregate for early-morning workouts at the state-of-the-art training facility in College Station. He often sneaks in, and no one realizes he's there.

Until he takes over the music selection.

"Then they'll look down and they know I'm in there," Naquin chuckled.

Beyond his third-place finish in American League Rookie of the Year voting in 2016 and his role in helping the Indians win their first pennant in more than a half-century, Naquin is known for his taste in tunes.

And when the blaring sound system in the weight room switches to an array of techno music or Kid Rock, that's the signal to the others that it's time for, as Aggie players call it, "Club Naquin."

"I try to get everybody going," Naquin said.

Dressed in workout garb adorned with Indians logos -- a black bandana bearing the "C," a black Indians dry-fit T-shirt and matching shorts -- Naquin feels entirely at home at the facility where he spent most of his time as a student-athlete.

Nearly five years have passed since he was selected by the Indians in the first round of the 2012 Draft, but when it comes to staying in shape and preparing for the upcoming season, this is the only place he wants to be.

"It's awesome," said Naquin, who grew up in Spring, Texas. "I live 25 minutes from here -- enough to get away from everything but close enough to come to town and do my work. It's good being around the guys."

Naquin's workouts start at around 9 a.m. with some stretching, agility and warmup exercises on a practice area adjacent to Olsen Field. He moves inside to the weight room for a variety of concentrated drills, including using free weights and barbells. The workout ends with swings off the tee in the sprawling batting cages near the weight room.

Naquin rarely strays from his daily routine, though he is careful not to overdo it, simultaneously pushing and pacing himself as he prepares for his sophomore season with the Indians.

"Mentally, it's 365 days a year," he said. "I don't think there's a day off just because of the mental side of it. But you have to take some time for your body."

That generally means lifting weights three or four times a week, with agility drills mixed in twice a week. He's recently added mobility exercises for his hips and shoulders.

"There's always room to improve no matter where you're at," he said. "There's always something to work on in this game."

In that respect, it's presumably good for current Aggies to have Naquin around on a regular basis during the offseason.

Mostly, he is just one of the guys -- except he's the only one in there whose photo, a gigantic poster-size action shot, hangs high atop the weight room. His is one of six photos of current Major Leaguers and Aggie alums to adorn the facility, along with the Tigers pitcher Alex Wilson, Cardinals pitcher Michael Wacha, Dodgers pitcher Ross Stripling, Angels infielder Cliff Pennington and Athletics pitcher Daniel Mengden.

Naquin's jersey, along with those of other accomplished alums, hangs on a wall outside the weight room. A little farther down the hall, his likeness is everywhere on a mural that celebrates the best moments and players in Aggie baseball history.

Still, he can get around largely unnoticed until he manipulates that ear-splitting sound system.

"I'm Texas though and though," he laughed, ticking off a list of several legendary country music singers he considers his favorites. "But when I get in the weight room, I love to blare some techno music. That and Kid Rock. They seem to like it."

Alyson Footer is a national correspondent for MLB.com. Follow her on Twitter @alysonfooter. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.