SARASOTA, Fla. - When the Yankees step onto the plane
will be embarking on a journey that is long on details as well as mileage.
Yankees trainer Gene Monahan held a rare news briefing in the team's Tampa
clubhouse yesterday to share some of those details with the media. You don't
get this kind of advice from your neighborhood travel agent or from Travelocity.
From contact-lens removal to loose-fitting clothing, to frequent drinks of
water to multiple pre-programmed light meals to recommended sleep times to
specially prescribed multiple vitamins, the attention to detail by the Yankees'
staff is staggering.
"I trust that man. I really do. He's the best [trainer] I've ever been
around," said manager Joe Torre, who in addition to numerous DVDs is bringing
several decks of cards for his regular airborne games of hearts with Monahan.
"Big stakes. A dollar a game."
The stakes are much higher for the Yankees, which is why Monahan is being
such a stickler for details. He wants the Yankees to get their bodies on Japan
time (14 hours ahead of Eastern Time) as soon as possible, then follow a
carefully planned pattern of nutrition, sleep and exercise to leave as little
to chance as possible.
"The meals are planned according to the people we hired, the experts," said
Monahan, 59, the Yankees' head trainer for 32 years. "It's several small meals
spread out through the entire trip.
"I'll be going around and telling the correct times to eat and to take on
fluids. We are pushing fluids on this trip."
Monahan said eliminating dehydration is vital to preventing muscle cramps
that could lead to muscle strains in Japan. That's why he is prescribing 16
ounces of water or sports drinks per hour. Alcohol will be prohibited because
it accelerates dehydration. Monahan said he will strictly enforce the eating
and drinking edicts.
"I will be going around with water and Gatorade, force-feeding them,
keeping track of who is drinking water and who's not. I'll sit there and watch
them drink it."
There also will be organized exercise - walking around and stretching.
Sleep patterns will be regulated, as much as that is possible. Because the
Yankees had games every day leading up to this trip, they were unable to begin
the process of getting their body clocks onto Japan time the recommended five
to seven days beforehand. So Monahan is bringing clocks set to both Tampa and
Tokyo time to accelerate the acclimation process "as soon as the game is over
[tomorrow] in Clearwater."
He said naps are optional on the 2 3/4-hour flight to Chicago, but that the
players will be strongly urged to stay awake for the first couple of hours of
the 13 1/4-hour flight from Chicago to Tokyo. Then they will try to get six
hours of deep sleep before being kept awake for the final eight or nine hours
of the trip, which will last 16 to 18 hours.
That way, Monahan said, the players will be ready to sleep when they arrive
in Japan between midnight and 2 a.m. local time on Saturday.
To structure the sleep patterns, Monahan said he has encouraged the players
to dress comfortably, change from shoes to slippers once on board, and load up
"on things they enjoy, like DVD movies and books. Reading helps you sleep.
Exercise, too. Make it [the plane] as much like home as possible the whole way
there and back."
Few home lives are as organized as the lives of the Yankees will be on
their Japanese excursion.