How nutrition played a major role in Cubs pitcher Adbert Alzolay’s growth as an MLB playerRussell Dorseyon May 10, 2021 at 3:00 pm

“She taught me how to eat,” Cubs pitcher Adbert Alzolay said of his wife, nutritionist  Diana Inzunza. “That’s a game-changer right there. She knows what she’s doing and she’s been on me.”
“She taught me how to eat,” Cubs pitcher Adbert Alzolay said of his wife, nutritionist Diana Inzunza. “That’s a game-changer right there. She knows what she’s doing and she’s been on me.” | Photo courtesy of Diana Inzunza

Cubs’ right-hander Alzolay didn’t always know what to eat, but with a little help from his wife, Diana Inzunza, he figured out that nutrition could push him to new heights.

Every couple has something that brings them closer together. For some, it’s a hobby, a TV show or even music. But for Adbert Alzolay and his wife, Diana Inzunza, food has been something that’s made them closer.

It’s also helped Alzolay get himself into the best shape of his career in the process.

“She taught me how to eat,” Alzolay told the Sun-Times. “That’s a game-changer right there. She knows what she’s doing and she’s been on me.”

Alzolay is finally getting his chance to show what he can do in the big leagues after years of flashing potential. This season, he’s beginning to show why he may be the answer to many questions about the Cubs’ homegrown pitching.

The journey for Alzolay’s success in the big leagues has never been about talent, but health. Throughout his rise through the minor leagues, Alzolay battled injuries and his durability was always a question. Over the last few years, the organization has worked with him to get his body stronger to help keep it from breaking down.

Alzolay had to do some of that work away from the park, and he would soon find out that what he put in his body was just as important as the hours he put in in the weight room. Fortunately for him, he had a little help.

“I had worked with athletes before, so that wasn’t new,” Inzunza said. “A lot of athletes have this mindset of, ‘I’m going to eat whatever I want,’ right? That’s just how they think, and so it wasn’t like a sit down conversation. But I controlled the kitchen. So he had to eat what I was making and I went about it indirectly. After he got hurt, he was focusing on recovery and focusing on everything he had to do to kind of rebuild his body.”

His wife, a certified nutritionist, was his biggest guide, and after suffering a lat strain in 2018, she had to find a way to get Alzolay to start learning new habits.

“I put my body on a nutritional program with Diana,” he said. “She was my girlfriend at that time, and we did it during the offseason. After I got hurt in ‘18 was when I dove more into nutrition and changed everything.”

“I think that’s when he realized that what you put in your body can really help with your recovery,” she said.

The world of nutrition was new to Alzolay, who’s focus for most of his life had been about being the best baseball player he could be. But he soon realized that also meant knowing what was going into his body too. Once he started to understand, the light went off. The 26-year-old right-hander started making changes, even going vegetarian for six months to reset his body.

“I didn’t have a diet. I’d eat whatever each day or whatever we had at the field and then after the game, I used to eat a lot of McDonald’s,” Alzolay said as a big grin came over his face. “Growing up back home in Venezuela, we used to eat a lot of red meat. I was eating red meat at least five times a week. So when I decided to go back to eating meat, we started eating white meat like fish or chicken.”

“That was bonding for us, because we were both suffering,” she said with a laugh. “We both did it together, because I had gone vegetarian the year before and it’s really hard when you do it by yourself. Because then I had to cook two meals, so I stopped. The following year, when he saw “The Game Changers” documentary, he wanted to try it out.

“It was fun for me because it challenged me to create new recipes. And like every single day, I just couldn’t wait for him to get home so I could show him like what I had made so that he didn’t think that being vegetarian was just eating salads.”

The lesson Alzolay had to learn was one that many young players have had to figure out while in the minor leagues. While some have the benefit of larger signing bonuses to afford better food, most have to eat what they can afford, which in many cases becomes fast food.

The journey with food has been an enjoyable one for the Alzolays, who got married last year. While they’re in lockstep on their nutrition, both admit they still enjoy those cheat meals every once in a while, including a stop at McDonald’s.

But the last three years have been a learning experience for the Cubs’ right-hander as he figured out how to keep himself properly fueled to be more durable. He feels that if he stays consistent off the field not only in the weight room, but in the kitchen, the results will take care of itself on the field.

“I feel so good,” Alzolay said. “My body has been feeling really good, and I think the way that you eat, you will see it here on the field too. We play 162 games for six months. If you don’t take care of your body, you won’t be able to be here for that long.”

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