MLB: Restful Sleep Helps Shohei Ohtani Fulfill His Baseball Dreams Both Ways
TOKYO (Kyodo) — Baseball sensation Shohei Ohtani’s ability to outperform and outperform most of his MLB peers hinges on a daily activity some take for granted: getting quality sleep.
And while his stellar performances set new standards for MLB stars, the way he stays one step ahead is instructive for anyone trying to cope in a busy modern society.
“Sleep is my top priority,” said the Los Angeles Angels star, who recently wrapped up another historic season despite the team’s lack of success.
The first MLB player of the World Series era to bat enough times and pitch enough innings to qualify for both a batting title and the ERA, Ohtani often says, “Good sleep leads to a good recovery.”
Getting enough sleep is a big challenge at the majors, especially for Japanese players in leagues where teams rarely have to travel more than two hours between playing locations that are all in the same time zone.
In 2022, Ohtani’s Los Angeles Angels have covered some 70,000 miles, third among MLB’s 30 clubs.
In the vast United States, where there is a maximum time difference of three hours, major league flights of more than three hours one way are commonplace.
In contrast, Nippon Professional Baseball’s longest scheduled flight time is around 2 hours and 30 minutes, between Sapporo, where the Nippon Ham Fighters, Ohtani’s former team, are based, and Fukuoka.
Teams in Japan also usually have Mondays off, giving each week a more compact pace than the MLB schedule can match.
Although modern schedules have been made more player-friendly, MLB players sometimes have to travel after a night game, arrive in the nearby town the next morning, and play a daytime game in the early afternoon.
Former Seattle Mariners star Ichiro Suzuki was famous for going the extra mile to get the sleep he needed during his long playing career, but Ohtani could raise the sleep bar to new heights.
Whether on planes, team buses, or in the clubhouse before and after practice, how well players manage to fit extra sleep into their grueling schedules can impact performance.
Ippei Mizuhara, Ohtani’s ubiquitous performer, attests to his efforts to get enough sleep – including many days when he’ll sleep a total of 10 hours or more in a day.
“He does everything he can to get as much sleep as possible,” Mizuhara said.
Quality sleep is essential. Bedding maker Nishikawa Co., which has a sponsorship deal with Ohtani since he’s been in Japan, stuffs twice as much material as usual into its custom-made pillows.
The broad-shouldered puncher needs pillows that maintain their height when tossing and turning in sleep.
“His pillows are really stuffed to the gills,” said Yuna Mori, public relations manager at Nishikawa. “I was surprised how high his pillow must be because of his shoulders.”
Ohtani will include naps in his training schedule as part of his carefully managed training schedule.
“A power nap is effective in relieving fatigue and improving productivity,” Mori said.
While advances in information and communication technology have undoubtedly made life more convenient, modern people who find themselves unable to disconnect from work could benefit from following Ohtani’s lead, he said. she declared.