Donovan Santas: The Evolution over 21 Years in Pro Baseball

Over his 21-year-long career in professional baseball in different capacities, Donovan Santas has seen some of the most momentous changes and shifts in the sports industry – from how strength training is implemented to how the strength & conditioning coach’s role has gained prominence.

But Donovan didn’t always have the fancy tools he has access to today

As a young man, Donovan grew up working on a farm in the middle of Wisconsin, in a town with only 750 people. Yet, he loved sports and knew he wanted to do something with it as a career.

So, after graduating high school with 20 other kids, Donovan went on to study Exercise Science at the University of Wisconsin – La Crosse and interned at the University of Arizona. He soon found himself surrounded by unique and talented athletes, driving his desire to keep working in his profession.

After a couple of internships with other teams including the Cleveland Indians, Donovan eventually joined the Toronto Bluejays, where he spent 18 years of his career as a Strength & Conditioning Coordinator before joining the New York Yankees as the Assistant Director of Player Health and Performance.

Donovan joins me today to share his insights on the evolution of professional baseball and the sports industry.

He illustrates how people viewed strength & conditioning coaches when he began his career and how the role has expanded over the years.

He describes what off and in-season training sessions look like for his teams and underscores the importance of recovery.

And he also discusses how coaches and other staff collaborate to create an athlete-centric environment where players can perform at their best level.


They call it a game of adjustments: you adjust to the world around you, the game, and everything that happens. – Donovan Santas


This week on the Physical Preparation Podcast:

  • Donovan’s background and how he became interested in the world of physical preparation
  • How strength & conditioning in pro baseball is different from when Donovan started his career
  • What a training program looked like 20 years ago versus how it looks today
  • The most significant shifts Donovan has seen in the industry
  • The power of breathing and the impact of the FMS
  • What people and organizations thought about strength & conditioning coaches then and now
  • Donovan’s first year in the major leagues
  • How collaboration within an organization helps athletes perform at the highest levels
  • What a typical training session looks like for Donovan and the importance of recovery
  • Integration and how coaches and other staff work together to cultivate an athlete-centric environment
  • How curiosity kept Donovan thriving in the industry through the years


Connect with Donovan Santas:


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