More Sleep This Spring

Reset the alarm clocks and hit the snooze button for an extra hour of sleep, practice has been moved back for the St. Louis Cardinals.

“That’s not necessarily so we can get a later dinner reservation,” explained Mike Matheny this morning. “As we went through our sleep trackers last year, our guys were getting less than seven hours of sleep a night–seven good hours on an average. That’s just not enough for what we’re asking of them once they come out here, especially after we start to compete.”

The Cardinals put together an internal research group last season to track various measurables from the team with several players wearing special tank tops under their jerseys to help record data. That information has been collected, shared, and now being put to use.

“Everything that we learned–it’d be crazy not to put that into application,” continued Matheny. “Part of that is defining what does a good Spring Training look like? What are some of our goals and let’s be very intentional about everything we do. I think that’s something we’ve taken a lot of pride in in the past, of not wasting anybody’s time out here. Make sure it’s efficient. But we’ve got to have get back–and the get back is the focus and the intensity and the amount of effort that we’re getting. All of that goes into play.”

Eventually, the Cardinals may have individualized plans for each player in Spring Training. To a degree, that’s already in place as a player is often encouraged to work on a particular need or can do so on their own.

Sometimes that results in staying late–or arriving early. Which could make for an interesting scenario as Matt Carpenter and Yadier Molina are two such individuals that arrive well before scheduled times to begin their work.

“We’re going to do what’s best for each guy,” answered Matheny. “If that is their program and that’s what they’ve had success–you’re talking about a couple of guys who’ve been around a while, we’re going to stick whatever works for them. Not going to lock them out, but also try to be smart. And make sure that they know and they’re hearing it from us, and they already heard it this morning, that it’s a priority for us that they figure out how to recover well and a big part of that is sleep. So how can we encourage that?

“Once again, that doesn’t give lots of liberties in the evening to take your night longer. So we’re still going to be tracking. But for us to get that information and not do something proactive about it, I think is a misuse of the information. Hopefully, that will pay dividends.”

The new start time will be hard to continue when Grapefruit League games begin, but until then the effort will be put forth. Instead of 8:30am, the mandatory report time will be of 9:30. However, the trainers will be available for those who need them at 7am.

The staff will still be there “long before the sun comes up” said Matheny, which raised the question if his staff didn’t need the seven hours?

“We’re going to have get to bed earlier,” he said with a smile. “No, even staff, I’m encouraging try and push back what they would normally do, push it back an hour. I look at my own last year, they kept telling me that I wasn’t getting enough and I ended up getting sick and it’s the first time in 20 years…it’s a different routine down here and the earlier you get here and the more you’re sacrificing, but it’s about these guys and trying to give them something that might be an advantage in the long run.”

Sights Around Camp:

Outfielder, first baseman, and storyteller–Jose Martinez…

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