BRADENTON, Fla. (KDKA) — While it might seem like fun in the southern sun, the ramping up of Spring Training is the preparation for an endurance run like no other in professional sports.

“Spring Training is here for a reason; it’s to train yourself mentally, physically for the seasons,” says Pirates centerfielder Andrew McCutchen.

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It’s a season that packs 162 games into just under 180 days. Survival instincts are crucial.

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“When you leave the field, whether it was a good day, bad day, short day, long day, whatever the case may be; when you leave the field, you want to mentally shut it down,” Neil Walker, Pirates second baseman, said.

And players have their own ways of doing that.

“Sleep, that’s it,” McCutchen says.

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“I play some golf, I fish, I like to go to the movies,” added Walker.

It may sound like a luxury, but it’s really a necessity in the baseball longevity game.

“You have to really unplug and not think about the baseball side of things. Mentally, you have to unplug and give your body a rest,” Pirates reliever Tony Watson says.

Even when the game is underway, the Pirates are learning they need to make adjustments so they can last the entire season.

“I think mechanically there’s some things I need to be doing differently, so I’m not working so hard on the mound,” said Pirates pitcher Charlie Morton.

Instead, the hard work comes long before fans even think about heading to the ballpark – habits formed in a lifetime of baseball and rekindled in Spring Training.

“For the people who think we don’t do anything, we do quite a bit being here at 6 in the morning and getting my work in and preparing for the day the sun’s not even up yet,” McCutchen said.

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