NEW YORK -- Roughly seven hours before the Mets and D-backs took the field Tuesday at Citi Field, 48 members of the Flushing YMCA took the field as part of the national PLAY campaign, which partners with the training staff from all 30 MLB teams to raise awareness about children's health issues and the obesity epidemic in the United States.
For almost two hours, the participants were divided into groups and rotated through a series of stations, touching on everything from healthy eating, injury prevention and strength and conditioning. Tavis Piattoly of the Taylor Hooton Foundation, which teaches young people about the dangers of anabolic steroids and other appearance and performance-enhancing drugs, advised the youngsters to value nutrition instead of opting for a shortcut in steroids.
Once the outdoor activities ended, the kids came back inside for a question-and-answer session with Mets relievers Jerry Blevins and Paul Sewald, both of whom touted the importance of fitness and nutrition.
"I love being active, and baseball is my way of doing that," Blevins told the kids.
Blevins then gave a brief breakdown of his pregame routine and how he prepares every day.
"Nutrition, eating right every day, being able to get a good night's sleep and to be able to have some type of regiment and routine to be able to perform every night is the hardest part," Blevins added, explaining that the job of a reliever is to constantly be ready for action.
Sewald said that because the baseball season is an eight-month grind, the offseason is dedicated to getting as strong as you possibly can. The pair also mentioned that being healthy has helped them be relatively injury-free throughout their careers.
"Of course, there are days you don't feel 100 percent," Sewald said. "But you got to do some extra running or make sure you drink extra water, to make sure that you're ready to go once it's game time."
Jeffrey Yang, 11, one of the children at the event from the Flushing YMCA, enjoyed being on the field and took away an important theme from the relievers' message.
"Baseball's good for you," Yang said. "As long as you're taking care of your health."
Chris Bumbaca is a reporter for MLB.com based in New York. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.