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How Phils are planning for London Series trip

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Phillies have game plan for London Series travel

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Obviously, the exact timeline depends on when the game ends, but the plan is to arrive in Boston — where they will open a three-game series vs. the Red Sox on Tuesday — around 10 ET on Sunday night.\n\nThat means they’ll need to do the opposite on the trip back home: stay awake for the entire flight, then sleep as soon as they get to their hotel in Boston.\n\nSo how does one pass seven-plus hours on a flight after back-to-back international baseball games?\n\n\”Cards,\” Thomson said. \”Playing a lot of cards.\”\n\nWhile Thomson and some of his fellow coaches play their hands, a group of players typically has their own game going.\n\nThat core group usually consists of Kyle Schwarber, J.T. Realmuto, Trea Turner and Whit Merrifield, but notable guests drop in from time to time, including Bryce Harper, Alec Bohm and Bryson Stott, among others. 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6:40 PM UTC

This story was excerpted from the Phillies Beat newsletter. Paul Casella is filling in for Todd Zolecki on this edition. To read the full newsletter, click here. And subscribe to get it regularly in your inbox.

PHILADELPHIA — Not much has been able to slow down the National League-leading Phillies this season, so they’re going out of their way to make sure this weekend’s trip to London doesn’t disrupt their remarkable start.

While the flight time itself — a little more than seven hours — isn’t overly excessive by Major League standards, the six-hour time change is unlike anything the players have experienced before. That’s why the organization has met with the players to emphasize the importance of strictly adhering to the advice of experts and the club’s medical staff in regard to how to approach this weekend’s two-game London Series against the Mets.

So what do those plans look like?

Well, the Phillies will head directly to the airport following Wednesday afternoon’s game against the Brewers, then fly overnight to London. Between the flight length and the time change, they will arrive on Thursday morning.

“Essentially, the key is making sure we’re sleeping on the plane going over,” manager Rob Thomson said. “We’ve got a plane with 100-something lay-down seats. So it’ll be sleeping on the way there, then getting up and moving around once we get there to try to acclimate to that time zone.”

That’ll be extra important for a Phillies team that just finished a West Coast swing through Denver and San Francisco last week. By the time they return from London, the Phils will have crossed 18 time zones since May 23, when they departed for Colorado.

And while sleeping isn’t typically the preferred activity for most of the players, they’re confident the special makeshift beds will help their cause.

As for the return trip, the Phillies will head straight to the airport following Sunday’s series finale. Obviously, the exact timeline depends on when the game ends, but the plan is to arrive in Boston — where they will open a three-game series vs. the Red Sox on Tuesday — around 10 ET on Sunday night.

That means they’ll need to do the opposite on the trip back home: stay awake for the entire flight, then sleep as soon as they get to their hotel in Boston.

So how does one pass seven-plus hours on a flight after back-to-back international baseball games?

“Cards,” Thomson said. “Playing a lot of cards.”

While Thomson and some of his fellow coaches play their hands, a group of players typically has their own game going.

That core group usually consists of Kyle Schwarber, J.T. Realmuto, Trea Turner and Whit Merrifield, but notable guests drop in from time to time, including Bryce Harper, Alec Bohm and Bryson Stott, among others. The game is dealer’s choice, though Merrifield said it’s usually some variation of poker.

As for some of the other guys, Zack Wheeler sometimes entertains himself with a Nintendo Switch, though he noted he’s “not much of a video game guy.” Matt Strahm dabbles in Sudoku and kills time on the Internet. Aaron Nola said he likes to just relax and chat with catcher and seat neighbor Garrett Stubbs.

“Maybe sip some bourbon,” Nola said.

Added Stubbs: “He has the good stuff; it’s good to be plane buddies with Noles.”

Regardless of how they pass the time, the key will simply be to stay awake.

Cardinals manager Oliver Marmol, whose club faced the Cubs in the London Series last summer, recently shed some light on the experience when he was in town for this past weekend’s series between the Cards and Phils.

“It was really enjoyable; I appreciated being able to go out there and experience that,” Marmol said. “But coming back is difficult. You plan for it as much as you can and you do everything possible, but it’s not an easy stretch.”

Marmol acknowledged that all the prep work and sticking to the advice of experts certainly helped make the transition easier, and Thomson is hoping the same holds true for his team.

“I’m excited,” Thomson said. “Honestly, I think everybody is excited to go. I think this is going to be unique, and it’s going to be a great experience for everybody involved.”

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