TAMPA — Manager Joe Torre has his DVDs ready. General manager Brian Cashman has picked out a few good books. And catcher Jorge Posada is set to move his watch forward 14 hours.
The New York Yankees are ready for Thursday’s trip, which should take about 18 hours from their spring training camp to their Tokyo hotel.
“We have Japan on our minds,” Torre said.
The AL champions will depart Tampa after Thursday afternoon’s spring training game against Philadelphia.
Once in Tokyo, the Yankees will play two exhibitions against Japanese teams before two regular-season games with Tampa Bay.
New York trainer Gene Monahan has put together an in-flight program to combat jet lag. The plan calls for players to nap if they like on the leg from Tampa to Chicago, where the plane will refuel.
After leaving Chicago, Monahan recommends the players stay awake two to four hours, followed by six hours of deep sleep. Then they should stay up the rest of the way.
“We want to make sure when they get to the hotel at that hour of the night, they can go to sleep,” Monahan said. “And wake up between 10 and noon and feel somewhat on their (Tokyo) time as so they had gone to bed in Japan the night before.”
No alcohol will be allowed on the flight to prevent dehydration.
“We’ll have stretching during the flight, and I’ll be going around with water and Gatorade force feeding,” Monahan said.
Outfielder Hideki Matsui, who still lives in Japan, offered teammates simple advice.
“There’s not much that I can say other than make sure you get as much sleep as possible on the plane and to make sure to take a lot of fluid,” Matsui said through an interpreter.
Movies and card games will be among the in-flight activities. Torre plans on playing hearts with Monahan.
A Few Good Men is on Torre’s DVD list.
“The acting in that movie is outstanding,” Torre said.
When the final game in Japan is over, the Yankees will immediately start readjusting to Tampa time. There will be clocks in the clubhouse showing eastern time.
“We’re going to keep that mind-set in the back of their minds,” Monahan said. “When the last out is recorded, we go on Tampa time. We’re going to get back here somewhere between midnight and 2 a.m. Get them up shortly after 11, 12 o’clock noon that day and get them right back on East Coast time for that day.”
The Yankees have two days off after returning from Japan before playing two exhibition games. After another off day, New York will resume the regular season April 6 at Tampa Bay.
“I’m looking forward to it,” Posada said. “It’s going to be tough, but I’ll tell you what, we’ve got to be out there. Go out there and try to get used to the time change right away, and hopefully we can have fun.”