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Myrtle Beach Pelicans' 'Big Mike' going for a bit smaller

Michael Jones was sick of being called "Big Mike."

The Pelicans first baseman stated publicly through his Twitter account last week that he was no longer comfortable carrying around the weight he has since May.

Jones, who is listed at 6-foot-3 and 220 pounds, admitted he weighed in at 278 pounds last week. After a conversation with coaches and some personal consideration, he dedicated himself to slimming back down at an odd part of the year.

"It's kind of hard to cut weight during the season because you want to perform at your best," he said. "You don't want to lose that extra energy you think is going to take away from your game."

The process, he said, is two-fold.

The first part included working in a cardio routine into his schedule twice a day. The second, Jones said, is where it's a bit trickier.

"Just staying away from all the fatty food," he said. "We get done with every game at 11 o'clock. The only thing that's open is McDonald's and things like that."

But, Jones also said that a lack of baseball earlier in the year had as much to do with the weight gain as anything.

He was released by the Red Sox organization on April 11. The seven weeks before he signed with the Pelicans on May 21 took him out of a baseball routine, but it also meant he was back home with the temptation of home-cooked meals.

In less than two months, he went from 254 pounds to just shy of 280.

"It was a lot of depression weight," Jones said. "Plus, my whole family's big. Momma's cooking, she's not worried about cooking healthy."

He's started to drop soda and carbohydrates from his diet, and the program has already started to show some results. He dropped five pounds in the first week of his new diet, and his goal is to continue to lose four pounds per week until he gets into the 245-pound range.

If early indications count for anything, he can also take his last seven games as further motivation. Jones, a .248 hitter on the year, is hitting .360 (9-for-25) in those seven games since he began his diet.

"He's working hard. You see him out there running every day," manager Rocket Wheeler said. "It's what he wants to do. I know he's swinging the bat pretty good right now."

Arms race

The Pelicans staff took a huge blow last week with the promotions of Julio Teheran and Randall Delgado to Class AA Mississippi.

But Wheeler believes the Birds still have the pitching staff to make a run at a second-half title.

"Most of the pitching staff has been here for a good six, seven weeks," Wheeler said. "So they know what's going on.

"That's how we're working it right now, get your work done and everybody's a part of it. There's a little talk in the clubhouse that we're in this thing, even though we're under .500."

Teheran, who played in the Major League Baseball Futures game, was 4-4 with a 2.98 ERA in 10 starts in Myrtle Beach. Delgado was 4-7 with a 2.76 ERA.

Wheeler said both pitchers will finish out the season in Class AA.

In order to earn a trip to the playoffs, the Pelicans (41-62 overall, 15-18 second half heading into Thursday's game) will have to rely more on current starters Matt Crim, J.J. Hoover and Brett Oberholtzer, as well as newly promoted righty Cory Rasmus.