Around 11, Gregg returns home to do batting exercises in the family's 45-foot-long backyard pool. Standing chest deep, Jefferies takes 50 swings each way, pulling his bat through the water as smoothly as possible. Then, holding the bat fully immersed, he lifts it up and down 20 times with each hand, often struggling to wrench it to the surface.
Next he runs—or thrashes—10 laps in the five-foot-deep pool, lifting his knees as high as he can. Then he swims another 40.
By now it's noon. Lunchtime? No way. Jefferies dashes to the Prime Time Athletic Club in nearby Burlingame for nearly two hours of weightlifting and fingertip push-ups. That's followed by a two-mile, 12-minute run and 10 sprints up a steep hill.
At 2 p.m. it's finally time for a snack—yogurt and fruit—but Jefferies doesn't get too comfortable. He has to do an upper-arm drill: throwing footballs into a net 70 times.
After that he zips to his alma mater, Serra High in San Mateo, to practice with the baseball team. He takes batting practice in the $15,000 cage he donated to the school with money he's earned over the last three years. Then he returns to Parkside for the tennis ball drill. At 6:30 p.m. he gets back home for a 20-minute romp on the treadmill, followed by a shower and dinner.
So the Can't Miss Kid is a self-made man. "I'm not a natural," Gregg says. "I don't know any naturals. You can't go through the off-season anymore without working out. No matter how well I do in baseball, I will never be too old to practice my hitting or listen to my father."
All of the family's decisions are made at the large oval pine table in the kitchen of their house in Millbrae, Calif., about 12 miles south of San Francisco. Sometimes the discussions turn into heated arguments, like the one that erupted when the Mets made Gregg their first-round selection (20th overall) in the June 1985 amateur draft.
Gregg wanted to sign, and he got support from his mother and his brother Dean, now 22 and an infielder at the University of San Francisco. But Rich felt Gregg should go to college on a baseball scholarship. "What if you go oh for 17 one week?" Rich asked. "And there's nobody around to talk to? How will you respond to that?"
"I won't know. Dad," Gregg replied, "until I try."
After two weeks of soul-searching, Rich allowed his son to sign on two conditions: that the Mets set aside guaranteed money for Gregg's college education, and that most of his $110,000 signing bonus be invested.