ST. LOUIS -- The Cardinals are nearing the end of a 48-day stretch in which they will have had just three scheduled off-days. And because of a quirk in the schedule, they'll follow it with a period in which the team will have three off-days during an eight-day span.
Although the off-days are certainly welcomed -- especially with the summer temperatures rising -- the Cardinals are altering the team's travel plans in order to maximize how much of that downtime can be spent at home. With an off-day before the start of a three-city trip, the Cardinals are going to travel to Houston late Monday night. Typically, teams leave midday when traveling the day before the start of a new series.
But because the following two off-days both come in between road series (one in Oakland, the other in Anaheim), manager Mike Matheny wanted to give his players the extra time at home. He considered having the team fly to Houston on Tuesday morning but opted against it because of the risk of delays associated with same-day travel.
"This year, in particular, the first half has been brutal with guys getting time with their families," Matheny said. "That's part of what we've got going on right now. We have guys who have hardly seen their families. To be as effective as we can be out here, we have to make sure we have pretty good balance in other areas. It's been a tough schedule."
Those three off-days will be the Cardinals' eighth, ninth and 10th of the season. Six of them have come on the road, not counting those that have been travel days.
How the Cardinals will use the upcoming cluster of off-days for competitive purposes has not yet been determined, Matheny said. The club will have the option of skipping spots in the rotation if it wants to give anyone extra rest.
Jenifer Langosch is a reporter for MLB.com. Read her blog, By Gosh, It's Langosch, and follow her on Twitter @LangoschMLB. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.