“To my knowledge, there’s not a lot of teams and not a lot players that do the training,” Harrison said. “They’re consumed with strength and conditioning and mechanics and they don’t have time to take on something additional.”
Jayson Werth met Harrison after the Baltimore Orioles drafted him in 1997. He started using Harrison’s “Slow The Game Down” cards then, and later used more exercises while with the Los Angeles Dodgers. He tried the strobe glasses and even occasionally threw around the ring with colored balls in 2010 with then-Phillies teammate Raul Ibanez.
The Washington Nationals held tryouts Saturday to find its next team of Racing Presidents, the giant-headed mascots that sprint around the field during the fourth inning of home games at Nationals Park.
Insight on the Nationals and all the latest news from Post reporters Adam Kilgore and James Wagner.
But Werth never made it part of his routine, in large part because even though he has long worn contacts to combat astigmatism in one eye, he hasn’t struggled to see the ball or pick up its spin.
“There’s something to [the vision training], for sure,” he said. “But it’s not something that I’ve not really bought into. It has a value. But there’s so many things to do in the day. For me it usually gets left off the list, unfortunately.”
Smithson has more ideas for improving the Nationals’ vision. Two weeks ago, while checking the eyesight of all the players in the visitor’s training room in Space Coast Stadium, he also tested for a pigment in the retina that acts almost as the eye’s internal sunglasses.
He wants to compare the day and night batting averages, earned run averages and strikeout-to-walk ratios of players with high and low pigment concentration. And he hopes to test the results again after he gives some players an approved nutritional supplement of vitamins and natural oils that helps increase that macular pigment.
Smithson also will encourage more players who are rehabbing from major injuries to focus on training their eyes while out of game action and reduce their rustiness when they return. And with the training room at Nationals Park, players like Lombardozzi — and maybe more — will have access to training that may help them.
“The most important thing in this game is you have to see,” Lombardozzi said. “If you’re not picking up the baseball, you can’t really hit it. I just think it’s a no-brainer. Some guys are into it and some guys aren’t. I think it’s been a big help and something I’ll continue to do.”