Article courtesy of Special to MLB.com/
Marlins left fielder Christian Yelich contributed to the PLAY (Promoting a Lifetime of Activity for Youth) campaign on Thursday morning at Marlins Park, talking to a captivated group of more than 50 kids about the game he loves and the dangers of illegal performance-enhancing drugs (PEDs).
“There’s no better feeling than going out on that field and knowing that everything you’ve accomplished out there is because of your natural talent you’re your own ability and hard work,” Yelich said. “I didn’t cheat. I didn’t take a shortcut.”
Marlins head trainer Dustin Luepker and assistant trainer Mike Kozak helped out at rotating stations that featured stretching and exercises and touched on a variety of topics, including healthy eating, injury prevention, an education on PEDs and strength and conditioning.
Created in 2004 by the Professional Baseball Athletic Trainers Society (PBATS), PLAY was formed to raise awareness about children’s health issues and the obesity epidemic in the United States.
PLAY has conducted more than 200 events inside all 30 Major League ballparks, with the goal of sending positive messages about making healthy decisions and living a more active and healthy lifestyle.
“The design of the program is really to parlay the influence of Major League Baseball on behalf of the betterment of kids,” said Carmen Mayell of the PLAY campaign, who was also on hand Thursday.
Yelich said he feels a responsibility to reach out to today’s youth and try to impress upon them the pitfalls of PEDs.
“It’s important to talk to these guys about it,” Yelich said. “We’re trying to clean up the game.
“If you can talk to these young kids who are just starting out playing baseball and tell them that [PEDs] are just not the way to go, I think that’s really important. Maybe I reach them, maybe I don’t. I think at least talking to them about it might make them think twice, and hopefully we can deter that.
“Hopefully I can make a difference in their lives. You want to look back on your accomplishments in sports and realize that it was you; you did it all natural. Your talent took you to whatever level whether it was — high school, college or professional baseball. You want to look back and know that you did it the right way.”