Everyone enjoys a good night of sleep. Getting proper rest is going to be a key part of the Tampa Bay Rays plans for Spring Training this year.
We often hear of ballplayers heading to the park early in the morning to take their swings in the batting cages, work out, or study film on the opposition. It is all part of their preparation and desire to work harder than the next person. And, in a lot of ways, it is expected. If a player does not appear early, he gets labeled as lazy.
This year, the Tampa Bay Rays are going to have a different mindset. When Spring Training begins, instead of starting at 9:30 AM as they had in the past, practices will begin an hour later. The idea is that the Rays players will be able to use that extra hour to get more rest, allowing them to recover better from the wear and tear of getting into baseball shape.
It is not necessarily a new idea. The Yankees did the same thing last year, and actually started their practices even later than the Rays are planning to. Nonetheless, the Rays own studies about the impact of sleep upon their players has led to this experiment.
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Will this plan lead to improved results on the field? It is hard to say. The Yankees surprisingly jumped into the playoff picture last year, but that was mainly because of the play of their youngsters. However, it is certainly worth taking a chance on.
The only concern is whether or not the players will take that extra hour to rest. It is certainly possible that at least a few players will use that hour to work out or get a few swings in before other players arrive. After all, ballplayers are creatures of habit, and if a player is used to arriving at a certain time, he may not change his schedule.
It will also be interesting to see if other teams follow suit. Should the Rays outperform expectations, and find themselves in contention deep into the 2017 season, other teams may look to follow that rest plan in Spring Training next year. Of course, one has to wonder how much an extra hour of sleep a day in February and March will matter in August, but teams tend to copy those who find success.
The Tampa Bay Rays are looking to get more rest during Spring Training. If nothing else, the players should be happy for that extra hour of shuteye.