How to Eat Like a New York Yankee Pitcher
We chat with relief pitcher David Robertson about game-time eating habits
David Robertson is one of the key relievers for the New York Yankees, serving as the setup man for legendary closer Mariano Rivera, trusted to get the team through tough spots and coming through for them more often than not. The 28-year-old right-hander was a member of the American League All-Star Team in 2011, and this season he’s 4-1 with a 2.23 ERA with 39 appearances.
We caught up with Robertson, who was helping to promote Lipton's new status as the official iced tea of Major League Baseball, during this week’s Home Run Derby, and had the opportunity to ask him some questions about what his daily eating routine is like, what his favorite restaurants are, how the food is in the clubhouse, and how it feels to get a few days off during the All-Star break.
The Daily Meal: What do you usually eat during the season?
David Robertson: That changes all the time. We travel so much that food is sometimes whatever you can find, and sometimes it’s by choice. For lunch, I’ll usually eat a lot of Chipotle or Jimmy John’s when I’m on the road. Those are my favorite spots and I hit them up wherever I go.
So it’s not just protein shakes?
No, you don’t need all that protein, just a healthy diet. I’ll eat that for lunch. For games, the clubhouse staff will provide us with a spread, and it’s usually chicken, steak, vegetables, salad, and maybe some pasta. They put a good spread out every time for you. And that’s usually my meal on the road. At home, we’re kind of pampered. We have a great chef. He makes a lot of different styles of food, like Italian, Latin, and American. He does a good job. It’s all healthy, and it’s all very good food.
Do you get to put in special requests for specific dishes that you like?
Occasionally, but for the most part he puts out a grilled chicken every day, something green, whether it be lightly steamed green beans, broccoli, or cauliflower, some kind of stew, whole-wheat pasta, and usually sweet potatoes. Those are my favorite, so if those are out there, I don’t really ask for much else.
During the season, is there an outright ban on having a beer after the game? Are there any alcohol rules?
There are no alcohol rules, but we don’t drink on the way back home, which is smart because some of us like to drive back home. I don’t think it’s frowned upon to get a beer after a game. Sometimes, you just want to have a beer after you eat a meal, and then go back to the hotel room to sleep.
I guess that at this point in your career, you can be trusted to not come in hung-over the next morning.
Yeah, I don’t want to play hung-over. I don’t want to go out there feeling like crap. I cut myself off with two beers. I feel like that’s OK sometimes. I’m not going to spend all night drinking and partying it up, get back to the hotel at 2 or 3 a.m., and then try to play a game the next day. It’s just not going to work. I wouldn’t be at my top level of performance in the field.
Is there anyone on the team who might occasionally go a little overboard?
Not that I can think of. I can’t think of anyone on our team who goes out that much. We have such a great group of guys. A lot of us go back to the hotels, we sometimes hang out at the clubhouse for a little bit after games. There’s no one on the team who’s a wild man out there.
Does most of the team tend to eat before the game or after the game? How does it work?
How about I explain a normal day? I’ll usually get up at 8 a.m. if I’m at home in New York. I’ll have coffee, scrambled eggs, and toast, and I’ll feed my 10-month-old baby. (He’s a little mess right now.) I drink citrus green Lipton tea a lot now. It makes me feel fresh for the day. I’ll have a caffeine boost but I’m hydrating at the same time. It’s a good morning drink.
I’ll eat a light snack at the field, whether it’s some chicken breast, Boston Market, a burger place, or a bowl of soup with some crackers. Then I’ll work out, and we’ll hang out at the clubhouse to speak to the media. From here, we’ll have batting practice. After batting practice, at around 5 p.m., we come in and there will be a chef putting out a spread for us, which consists of just about anything, like we talked about earlier. After that, we play ball, and after the game, there’s something else for us to eat. We eat a lot, but our schedules are different. I eat very light for breakfast, just enough get me going. My day really starts at 2, 2:30 p.m., when I get to the field and have a snack.
How many calories would you say you burn during each appearance in a game?
Not that many. I probably burn more at my workouts than when I’m actually pitching.
Any there any restaurants that you’ve fallen in love with since you have joined the team?
I used to know so many restaurants before we had a baby. My favorite place would probably be Outback Steakhouse. I would eat at Outback every night.
Is there a clique situation at the clubhouse where there are different groups of friends, or do you have to operate as a unit?
I don’t think it’s cliquey at all in the clubhouse. Everyone gets along really well. It’s a good mesh, in this clubhouse. It’s been really good.
When you’re on the road, how much time do you have to eat out at restaurants?
You don’t have too much time after games, because most of our games are night games. Occasionally, we’ll get day games for a weekend series. We’ll go explore the city and eat. It just doesn’t happen a lot. For the most part, you eat the field.
How does your routine change during the All-Star break? Does it take a little while to get used to the change of pace?
No, you just try to enjoy the All-Star game. After playing 162 games in 181 days, you’re glad you get three to four days off.
Are there any common misconceptions about being a Yankee? I imagine that it’s a glorified sort of situation, but at the end of the day, you’re going back to hotel room like anyone else.
I think people have a misconception that we’re superstars sometimes. I don’t want to come off funny saying that, but people think we’re out partying out every night. I go home to my play with my son and go to bed at 11 or 12 o’clock. I’m just a homebody.
When you think about being a Yankee and all that history that came before you, do you ever sit back and think, "I can’t believe this is what I’m doing?"
Yes. Every day when I go to my locker and see Mariano right next to me, I feel that way.
What’s your favorite thing about being a Yankee?
Playing for the New York Yankees, that’s the best thing there is!
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