BRIDGEPORT — When I ran into retired White Sox slugger Frank Thomas Tuesday he didn’t look as, well, bloated as he does on TV.
As a fellow plus-sized man, I just had to compliment the "Big Hurt" on his slimmer, healthier look.
That’s when the future Hall of Famer — a two-time MVP who hit 521 homers in 19 seasons during baseball’s “Steroid Era” without using performance-enhancing drugs — told me he recently started “juicing.”
“Juicing,” of course, is slang for using steroids. When I pointed out the obvious irony, Thomas chuckled a bit.
“I have to be very clear when I talk about it,” he said. “I’m talking about juice. I get all my vegetables and five grains in two big 16-ounce glasses every morning.”
It’s a liquid concoction of vegetables and superfoods — “kale, spinach, celery, asparagus, parsley, cilantro and broccoli,” Thomas said.
“Does it taste like a minty veggie taco?” I asked.
“I mix it with strawberries, blueberries, raspberries and a banana,” Thomas said. “That makes it go down better.”
He says pounding down a couple juices for breakfast fills him up most of the day. He forces himself to have “a little turkey” for lunch and light dinner of chicken or fish.
The Big Hurt got his nickname for a reason — he’s 6-foot-5 and weighed at least 275 during his final playing days — but he’s serious about slimming down.
“I’ve lost 12 pounds in not even three weeks,” Thomas said. “I’m going to [juice] for six months. I want to lose 45 pounds.”
Sadly, the juice diet isn't a miracle weight-loss cure.
Thomas, 44, also had to come to terms with something that’s hard for big guys to admit: “You don’t need meat to survive.”
He started pumping iron again.
“Dude, I work out every day, hard. I want to be cut,” Thomas said. “I want to look like I did when I was playing.”
And so far, performance enhancing kale-juice cocktails have provided the extra boost he needs to keep at it.
“Man, I’ve never been so energetic in my life. Within 10 minutes … I’m like, ‘Woah, let’s get going.’ And it’s not like a one-hour thing. It lasts six or seven hours a day,” he said. “I’m gonna look good. I’m gonna do it.”
I’m hoping the Big Hurt finds that slimmer version of himself.
But if he strikes out on the juice diet, Thomas has brewed up another way to help keep off the calories during prime tailgaiting season — his own low-calorie beer.
The Big Hurt's namesake beer company debuted “BHB MVP” at Sox Park on Opening Day — and bottles are set to hit shelves at Binny’s Beverage Depot on Thursday. The crisp, summery beer has fewer than half the calories of Big Hurt Beer — a high-alcohol malt liquor that beer geeks on ratebeer.com described as "not completely undrinkable."
“We had to tone it down a bit," Thomas said. "It’s just 100 calories. It’s a sipper, something you can drink every day.”
The Big Hurt's brew might not help you lose weight, but I'll betcha five bucks it tastes better than kale juice.