Being a major leaguer is accomplishment enough for most people, but Marlins' reserve infielder Wes Helms has another notch on his belt -- actually it's the belt itself. Helms has a black belt in kickboxing, which he took up in 1995 to improve his agility. Although he has laid off the training the past few years to preserve his 32-year-old body, he talked about martial arts with Staff Writer Zach Buchanan.
Have you ever had to use kickboxing in real life?
"I've been lucky. I've never had any incidents off the field or anything where I've needed it. I've always got along with teammates. I never went at it with a teammate. It's one of those things where you've got it if you need it, especially in the world today. You never know what might happen."
Are you a fan of UFC or MMA?
"I'm not a fan of fighting for competition and fighting for the fans. I'm a believer that you only fight to protect yourself, protect your family. So I've never gotten into the Ultimate Fighting. I just couldn't see getting into the ring and beating somebody, or somebody beating you up for money. I'd rather know I have it to protect myself and my family. Other than that, I really couldn't care less about doing it for competition or anything."
Could you take any UFC fighters though?
"When I was kickboxing, Royce Gracie, with the Gracie family he won the championships for a while back in the late 90's and early 2000's. So Hoyce Gracie and his son came to our studio one day and showed us some stuff with his ground fighting and grappling and everything. So I kind of got with him and everything, but those guys are on a different level. I know about pretty much just enough to take care of myself and get the black belt. When it comes to the extreme that they're in, I would never say I could take any of them."
Who's the one teammate you'd least want to run across in a dark alley?
"Last year I probably would have said Kevin Gregg would be a guy that could stand up on his own. This year I'd probably say Leo Nunez, because of the way he pitches. He's crazy on the mound, so I'd probably think he'd be crazy off the field."
Now you've said that if you didn't play baseball you'd want to be a Navy Seal.
"I love the military. My father, my grandfather, a lot of my family members were in the military. I've just been a fan of the Navy Seals. They go in for special missions. They're the guys that go in and rescue the POWs and stuff like that. If I did it, I would want to go in and be one of the best of the best. I'd be in the Navy Seals, Delta Force. I love the way they train. I think it'd be fun to train the way they train. I love the conditions they put themselves in with the cold, extreme water. I just think it'd be fun to put your mind and body to the test and see how can handle it."
Do you see yourself ever actually putting yourself through that type of training?
"I could see myself when I'm out of baseball maybe getting with someone. I've been to the Navy Seal base out in California before just to kind of tour it. I could maybe see if I could get a hook up, just going through a day's training with them and seeing how hard it really is. Just to experience, just to really see what they do on a daily basis. Of course, they can't show you everything, but to do basically what they do to get ready."