ST. LOUIS - With three off days in the next 12 days, the Cardinals aren't about to complain about their schedule.
Well, not much.
As much as manager Mike Matheny enjoys time off during the season, he would like for his team to have had a little more down time at home. So far, the Cardinals have had only one off day that came in the middle of a home stand, and that was more than two months ago. By the end of their next trip, the Cardinals will have spent four off days in California, which will be more than they've had in Missouri.
"We've got guys that have hardly seen their families," Matheny said Wednesday before the Cardinals-Cubs game. "For us to be as effective out here as we can be, we also need to make sure they've got pretty good balance in other areas of their life."
With this home stand ending Sunday night and the team's next trip beginning Tuesday in Houston, Matheny is planning to make Monday as much of a "home" off day as he can. Instead of heading out in the late morning as is typical, the Cardinals will not leave for Houston until Monday night. Matheny even considered pushing back their departure until Tuesday.
"I was looking into leaving the day of the game to give guys a complete off day at home," Matheny said. "But man, I've traveled on days of games before. You're thinking of all the things that could potentially go wrong, how wrong they could go and you don't like out how it plays out. So we'll probably just give the guys a day to leave late, maybe even get their kids in bed before they have to head out of town."
What Matheny calls a "weird" schedule so far has been affected more by weather than by off-day situations. And yes, he knows that other than family and friends of the players, no one cares a whole lot about the Cardinals' off days.
Matheny also knows that the off-day situation will turn more favorable for the Cardinals in the second half. After their upcoming, three-stop swing through the A.L. West, the Cardinals will play four of the next five series at Busch Stadium. Within that stretch, they also have a four-day break for the All-Star Game and two off days that come during home stands.
In the meantime, Matheny will not turn down any time off, especially with the steamy summer still ahead.
"Off days are off days. They're always good," Matheny said. "It will be nice to have those ones on the road even though a good bit of the team is going to be away from their family."