November 29, 2023

Sleeping Beauty: Merrifield calls Blue Jays shut-eye king Kikuchi ‘a legend’


With Yusei Kikuchi‘s sleep comments going viral, Toronto Blue Jays second baseman Whit Merrifield made a point of referencing the left-hander while discussing the team’s schedule on Wednesday.

“It will be a late night, early morning into Tampa (on Friday after a Thursday night game in New York against the Yankees),” Merrifield said. “Try our best to sleep on a not-Kikuchi schedule and get up and do what we can in Tampa (against the Rays this weekend).”

Kikuchi had social media abuzz on Tuesday when he wondered aloud if a lack of sleep may have led to a cramp in his left upper trap muscle, forcing him to exit his start.

Kikuchi said he “only” slept 11 hours the previous night instead of his usual 13 or 14.

The left-hander clarified Wednesday that he sleeps that much “usually just on start days,” through interpreter Yusuke Oshima. He said if he’s awake too long prior to a start, he thinks about baseball too much and it can cause anxiety.

Merrifield, after Wednesday’s win over the Yankees, indicated there is evidence Kikuchi is an excellent sleeper.

“I’ve got a lot of pictures on my phone that I won’t show you guys,” Merrifield said, suggesting that Kikuchi has fallen asleep in the clubhouse.

“He does a lot of meditation, lot of mental preparation, so a lot of it is that. But I think sometimes he falls asleep while he’s doing it. I love that guy.”

If Kikuchi keeps performing like he has in this bounce-back season, you won’t find any Blue Jays complaining if he needs a little extra shut-eye.

“He’s the best, he’s a legend,” Merrifield said.

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