Matheny working with players to schedule days off

Matheny working with players to schedule days off

NEW YORK -- As manager Mike Matheny tries to seek the best way to keep his position players fresh, he has made an adjustment this year in terms of how he is building in what he sees as necessary days off.

On a day in which he unplugged both left fielder Matt Holliday and catcher Yadier Molina from the lineup, Matheny explained on Thursday that he often looks as far as a week in advance to start scheduling those days off. That gives players an opportunity to see a break coming, but it also offers them a chance to discuss potentially swapping it for a different day based on matchup preferences or feeling.

"It's evolving," Matheny said. "There have been many times where I say, 'This is a day that I see,' and we are a week out. And they say, 'You know what, I'd really like to play that day, how about this?' I like keeping them involved, though there are days where you're just not playing today and it's not much of a discussion. But the other times when we're trying to find a day to give them more of a mental break than a physical break, [we encourage them to] tell us where that fits best. They seem to respond pretty well to it."

Matheny has been especially deliberate in finding days off for his everyday veterans, including Holliday, Jhonny Peralta and Molina. Matt Carpenter's recent episode of extreme fatigue has made him more of a focal point in this initiative, too. The Cardinals have been particularly watchful of over-usage during this ongoing stretch of 36 games in 37 days.

Factoring in potential designated-hitter opportunities also plays into the scheduling. The Cardinals made a trip to Cleveland on their last road trip and have an upcoming series in Kansas City this weekend.

"When we get to that point and we're heading into an American League city, I'll say, 'I'm thinking about a day here. Would you like a day [off], or how about DH because we could probably use you in the lineup?'" Matheny explained. "There are other days where I'll just say, 'We have enough guys out of the lineup that I need you as a DH there with this matchup.' We just take all the information, present it to them, tell them what we're thinking."

Jenifer Langosch is a reporter for MLB.com. Read her blog, By Gosh, It's Langosch, follow her on Twitter @LangoschMLB, like her Facebook page Jenifer Langosch for Cardinals.com and listen to her podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.