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The Yankees Want Their Players To Sleep In For Spring Training

The team questions the wisdom of early morning practices when most regular season games start at night.

The New York Yankees are doing away with early morning spring training this year, according to The Wall Street Journal’s Jared Diamond.

They’ve pushed the start time for drills back from 6:00 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. in a bid for more and better sleep for their players.

“We start at 11:30. Don’t think if I see you here at 7:30 that I’m going to be impressed,” Yankees manager Joe Girardi warned his team, according to the Journal.

The change is based on a battery of recent research on the importance of sleep for athletic performance. It’s also expected to smooth the transition to the regular season, when most games are scheduled for the evening and players go to bed well past midnight. An added bonus: Later practices mean that the morning dew has burned off the field, so players slip less on wet grass, Girardi told the Journal.

A 2013 study from the American Academy of Sleep Medicine found that fatigue can negatively impact plate discipline and strike-zone judgment, and suggested that baseball teams “may be able to gain a competitive edge by focusing on fatigue management.”

Players also tend to perform better later in the day, so they may be able to get more out of their drills if they start later. 

The Yankees will keep their modified training schedule at least until they face the Detroit Tigers on March 2 in their first preseason game.

So far, the Yankees have responded positively to the change. “It’s nice to be able to get that rest that you might not get in other camps,” pitcher Vinnie Pestano told the Journal. “It’s definitely new to me, but it’s welcome.”

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