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Padres press snooze when it comes to wellness

MLB.com

SAN DIEGO -- A given baseball game lasts about three hours. As an organization, the Padres have committed to making the most out of the other 21 as well.

"We're certainly not alone in looking at every element of the day, not just what happens between the lines," Padres assistant general manager Josh Stein said. "What players are eating, how much players are in the weight room, how much players are using the time away from the field to really recover, looking at things like sleep. It's just different ways of looking at putting the players in the best possible position to succeed."

SAN DIEGO -- A given baseball game lasts about three hours. As an organization, the Padres have committed to making the most out of the other 21 as well.

"We're certainly not alone in looking at every element of the day, not just what happens between the lines," Padres assistant general manager Josh Stein said. "What players are eating, how much players are in the weight room, how much players are using the time away from the field to really recover, looking at things like sleep. It's just different ways of looking at putting the players in the best possible position to succeed."

There's been something of a cultural shift in the baseball world toward increased wellness, and San Diego is no exception. In the cafeteria, the Padres have added a smoothie and juice station, and a variety of other healthy options.

On a near-daily basis, players meet with the training staff to discuss their rest habits and physical recovery. Last weekend, a sleep expert spoke to the team in Washington.

"They're looking at different things nutritionally and rest-and-recovery-wise that will help to give us the best chance possible to succeed," San Diego left-hander Clayton Richard said. "It's tough in this game because the schedule is pretty relentless. But to have an organization that is willing to do what they can to help us out is big."

Video: SD@WSH: Richard fans Turner in the 1st

The most recent upgrade is a "recovery room," which the club has installed adjacent the clubhouse. On Tuesday, each player met with representatives from Bedgear to be fitted for their sleep habits with blankets, pillows and, in some cases, personalized beds.

The recovery room -- a place to sleep and to rest in the hours preceding the game -- is a quiet area with multiple beds, which serves as a place to relax.

"You have players showing up to the ballpark earlier than you did a generation ago," Stein said. "In the past, you saw players curled up in corners of the clubhouse trying to find a little bit of rest during what is a long and very arduous schedule. This is accepting of that and saying, 'Let's do something a little more structured to give the players an actual place to rest.'"

Added Shana Rocheleau, a Bedgear representative who met with each player: "When you think about what else you can do to enhance your level of performance, sleep is it -- along with eating right and hydrating right. ... If you get the most of your recovery at night, you're going to get the most of your performance on the field."

On the whole, Stein, who has been with the organization since 2003, said he's noticed more players embracing healthy off-the-field habits than in the past.

In that sense, Stein and the Padres have emphasized smart pregame routines. Where once players may have pushed themselves to exhaustion in the weight room, they're now being encouraged to ease up when necessary. In the past, that mindset might have been looked at as a weakness.

"It's actually the opposite," Stein said. "If you get a good day of rest, eat right, sleep right, you're doing the best thing possible for yourself."

Richard, one of the game's notoriously hard workers, has embraced this mindset, easing his workload on the days before and after his starts, while pushing himself to the limit otherwise.

Catcher Austin Hedges is also on board, noting he can feel it in his throwing arm and his body when hasn't eaten or slept right regularly.

Video: Must C Catch: Hedges dives for grab by on-deck circle

"It's not something where you can pick and choose whether you're going to eat well one day and eat bad the next day, get good sleep one day and not the next day," Hedges said. "If you're doing it on a daily basis, it's huge. It can be super beneficial to your performance on the field.

"The Padres are giving us everything we need, but they haven't forced it on us. It's on us as individuals to take advantage."

AJ Cassavell covers the Padres for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @ajcassavell.

San Diego Padres, Austin Hedges, Clayton Richard