This is not the first time Roy Oswalt has been part of a star-studded starting rotation.
For three years - 2004 to 2006 - he was part of a Houston Astros trio that included Roger Clemens and Andy Pettitte. To this day, those two still influence Oswalt's pitching preparation.
"Roger and Andy actually had a lot to do with what my workouts are like now," Oswalt said "They had a Navy Seal workout that they did, and that's what I try to do in the offseason to get in shape."
It makes sense that Oswalt would follow the intense workouts he started while teammates with Clemens and Pettitte. They were three of the best years of his baseball life. The first two years he won 20 games, and the third one he had a league-low 2.98 ERA. The Astros reached the National League Championship Series in 2004 and the World Series in 2005.
You don't mess with success, although Oswalt, 33, has learned to lighten his workout routine with age.
"I kind of do an abbreviated version of the Navy Seal stuff," Oswalt said. "You try to do five or six laps around the field - about a mile and a half - and you do stuff between each lap. So you'll do a lap around the field, stop and do 50 mountain climbers, then you'll do another lap and do 50 crunches."
There's also a sprint workout.
"You sprint 80 yards, then come back and do your sit-ups," he said. "Do another sprint and do ball pickups. You have a little different movement each time. It's a neat workout. A lot of people run three miles, and it gets boring doing one thing. I like to mix it up."
In Oswalt's mind, his offseason work is vital to his in-season success.
"My goal once I get here is to just maintain it," Oswalt said. "Some guys try to do more when they get to spring training, but I try to get in the best shape I can be when I get here so I can then do stuff just to stay in shape.
"I usually start around Dec. 15. I start by lifting weights. I used to start a little bit earlier when I had 700 or 800 innings. But you start getting around 2,000 innings and you try not to do quite as much."
Oswalt's approach somewhat contrasts with Roy Halladay's intense routine, but the veteran pitcher has learned from experience to do what works best for him.
"I just think everybody has their own routine," Oswalt said. "Doc likes to get here early in the morning and get his workout done early. I can do mine after the workout. We're just different people."
Oswalt has observed some of Halladay's workouts and said they're not as intense as those Shane Reynolds used to do with the Astros.
"I've never seen anybody work out the way Shane did," Oswalt said. "I was telling Doc about it. He did more pure running than anybody until his last year, when he had back surgery and he couldn't do it anymore."
Back issues have affected Oswalt's workouts in recent years as well.
"My biggest thing the last two years is that I've kind of modified my program," he said. "I used to do a lot of running, a lot of stadium running, and I had a few back problems a few years ago. So I kind of cut some of that out, and I started doing more cardio with the bike and a little bit more pool work. You kind of have to adjust as you go."
Unlike Halladay, when Oswalt is done pitching he does not feel the need to work out after the game. Instead, he saves his most intense workout for the day after his start.
"During the season, once I'm done with the game I'm done," he said. "I throw 110 to 115 pitches and try to recover after that. The next day is the hard day. You try to flush your body as much as possible. My routine has changed a little bit in the last two or three years. I used to run 20 minutes - about three miles. Now, I kind of pull that back to where I try to run 10 to 12 minutes outside, then go back inside and do a bike."
Oswalt also works his lower body the day after his start.
"The second day after a start I do upper body and run 10 minutes," he said. "I do core work every day. I do 500 crunches any style you want to do it."
Oswalt's use of video is typically restricted to the day after and the day before his starts. The day after he pitches, he watches his previous start, and the day before he watches the coming opponent.
When he has a specific question about a hitter, he sometimes leans on an old teammate the way Halladay relies on his catalog of hitters.
"If I need to know anything I can call Roger Clemens," Oswalt said. "He has everything on a BlackBerry. I have called him and asked him what he has on different guys. He still has 22 years of pitching to different guys, and I guess it's in some kind of thing he keeps notes in."
Clemens, of course, had a real intensity on the mound, while Oswalt is typically cool and composed.
"It ain't no big deal," Oswalt said. "When you get out there, it's the same game you've been playing your whole life. I probably am the same way now as when I came into the league."
This is not the first time Oswalt has been part of a star-studded starting rotation, but this season will mark the first time since 2002 that he has not been his team's opening-day starter.
Even with Clemens and Pettitte around, he was the main man in Houston. Now, he's No. 3 behind Halladay and Cliff Lee. But don't expect his routine or demeanor to change.
Contact staff writer Bob Brookover
at 215-854-2577 or firstname.lastname@example.org.