In the week upcoming, minor league baseball will return.
The Indianapolis Indians open their season on April 5th at home against Omaha.
Altoona, Greensboro, and Bradenton all begin their seasons next Friday.
What that means is that you’ll be reading the first full Prospect Watch of the year in one week.
It also means that every single player who has been waking up extremely early and playing all of their games in the afternoon in Florida will now have to quickly adjust to a new schedule.
I’ve always found the routine aspect of a baseball player’s life to be fascinating. It’s something that we can’t really quantify, but it’s easy to qualify that there is an existing factor that could impact a player’s performance.
For over a month, players participate in Spring Training, where you show up to the field early in the morning, play games by 1 PM, and your day is finished by 3-4 PM.
Now, most of those players will go to full-season affiliates, where their day doesn’t begin until around 2-3 PM, their games don’t start until 6-7 PM, and their day is finished by 10-11 PM.
Those are two completely different sleep schedules. The in-season schedule is opposite from what most people experience in life for a work schedule. The Spring Training schedule is more aligned with the nine-to-five life that absolutely doesn’t exist in baseball.
For over a month, players have to adjust to the nine-to-five schedule, only to quickly adjust to a variable, but mostly night shift schedule for the next five months.
That’s gotta be difficult in the short-term.
Then again, such an adjustment is the life of a baseball player.
Altoona, for example, has their home opener at 6 PM, their next game at 4 PM, and a Sunday game at 1 PM. Their following week has five games that start around 6-6:30, and one game that starts at 1 PM.
For the most part, baseball is a night job, but the schedule constantly changes to add day games, and players are expected to just adjust their life schedule on the fly to maintain maximum performance levels, regardless of when or where.
My theory is that the best baseball players can turn on their skillset regardless of the circumstances.
My theory is that most baseball players struggle being their best self on command, because the routine needed for that is hard to capture with so much travel and so many adjusting sleep schedules.
I doubt anything could be done to test this theory. That said, it’s something I’ve thought about for awhile, and it’s definitely the right time to have a discussion about it with the season coming up.
How much do you think sleep and life routines impact a baseball player during a big baseball time switch like the one we have coming up next week? Leave your thoughts in the comments.
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Tim is the owner, producer, editor, and lead writer of PiratesProspects.com. He has been running Pirates Prospects since 2009, becoming the first new media reporter and outlet covering the Pirates at the MLB level in 2011 and 2012. His work can also be found in Baseball America, where he has been a contributor since 2014 and the Pirates' correspondent since 2019.