A year later, when Dylan was six, the younger brother came to his dad with a question: "When are you going to tie me to a tree?"
"He had already learned to catch really well," Denver says. "But to satisfy him I went through the same process."
At about the same time, Dylan began working out—20 minutes of jumping rope, running in place, push-ups and pull-ups. The workouts soon intensified. Dylan and Bobby would dig a hole four feet deep and four feet wide and then shovel the dirt back in. They chopped down trees and split the wood with an ax, careful to emphasize the abdominal work, not just the swinging of the arms. At age eight, Dylan helped his father and brother build a mound and a batting cage in the backyard.
Denver always emphasized the importance of keeping the ball down. "A ground ball," he would say, "will never leave the ballpark." Denver would keep an eye on the boys when they played catch. If one of them made a throw above the other's head, Denver would order him to fill a wheelbarrow with dirt and push it around the 15 acres.
"Either push [the wheelbarrow] or run two laps," Dylan says. "Depended on what mood he was in. Then we would start to play catch again—and we would definitely keep it down."
Says Denver, "I've been criticized for working the boys that hard. I wasn't hard because I was doing every bit of it too. I never broke 'em or anything. Most of the time they were laughing."
Denver wanted to teach the boys the value and health benefits of hard work, but there was something else: He wanted pitching to be easy compared with the workouts. "The downside to the last 20 years is it's more about therapy than working out," Denver says. "I'm going against the grain on that. You work harder than in the games, then you can use your mind to focus."
Dylan's workouts now include heavy weights, especially to strengthen his legs to compensate for not having the leverage advantage that comes with height. The Orioles were so concerned about the intensity of those workouts that in spring training they assigned former Oriole Brady Anderson, now a special assistant to Duquette, to work out with Bundy for two weeks. He signed off.
"People ask me all the time," Denver says, "'Is he country strong from digging holes?' I tell them Dylan is a gym rat. He loves to work out."
After a small lifetime of hard work, Dylan Bundy must acquiesce to the conventional wisdom of the modern game. He is told this is what's best for him. Says Bundy, "I'm O.K. with it because they actually had a plan."