Ask A Twin: How Are You Handling all These Off Days?

Mandatory Credit: Bruce Kluckhohn-USA TODAY Sports

Baseball has the reputation of being a game played every single day, but the reality is that off-days are built into the schedule because travel and playing (nearly) every day can be grueling — especially as the season progresses.

Then the unscheduled off-days throw an added wrinkle into things, so Zone Coverage decided to ask a few Twins how they handle the off-days — both those scheduled and non-scheduled.

Reliever Trevor May

“That’s a good way to put it — we just roll with it. You gotta do the best with what you’ve got. I never take two days off in a row from throwing. That’s a big one. Because you forget really quickly how to throw. But honestly, you just take advantage because we just don’t have that many days off in a year. You try to take care of any little nagging thing you have and get the rest. But early, it is annoying having that many off days.

“First of all, you want to have them later when you’re hurting a little more. But secondly, it’s hard to get in a rhythm, especially as a relief pitcher. You go from feeling you aren’t pitching enough to….I’ve thrown 6 of the 11 games and I feel like I could throw more. I feel pretty fresh, and it’s been tough to get into a real rhythm.

“You want to get to a point where they need to have to stay away from you because you’re rolling a little bit. Ideally, you have five or six guys that are all rotating through leverage situations because you’re ahead every game. That’s what we want to get going, but it’s hard to do with off days.”

Apr 3, 2019; Kansas City, MO, USA; Minnesota Twins starting pitcher Trevor May (65) pitches against the Kansas City Royals in the ninth inning at Kauffman Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jay Biggerstaff-USA TODAY Sports

“It kind of is nice too. I let stuff pile up on me, too. So it’s kind of nice to have an unplanned day, even with the off days. We had a friend in town — me and my wife — so I wasn’t able to get as much done as I wanted to do. I actually wanted to take like 12 hours one day and really dive into a bunch of things I really needed to do. It just depends on the timing. But for the most part, being able to plan for things is easier than not being able to.”

Reliever Trevor Hildenberger

“It sucks as a team that we’re getting a bunch of off-days in April. We’re going to need them in August. There are teams who have played 16-17 games already? They’ll get off-days later in the season in the second half that we aren’t going to get. You only get a certain number of off-days, and they’re toward the front of the season when we don’t really need all them. So in that way, it kinda sucks.”

Apr 6, 2019; Philadelphia, PA, USA; Minnesota Twins relief pitcher Trevor Hildenberger (39) pitches during the seventh inning of the game against the Philadelphia Phillies at Citizens Bank Park. The Twins won the game 6-2. Credit: John Geliebter-USA TODAY Sports

“I want to just go. We’ve been gearing up for the season since Oct. 1. Since the last season ended. Now we’re going to have doubleheaders later in the year. Remember last year we had a doubleheader against the White Sox last year on like Sept. 28? You don’t want doubleheaders later in the season when you’re tired, and your arms are tired and that sort of thing.”

“You can find something to do. Stuff around the house, or you come in and get your work done and then go explore. Off-days on the road are fun. Off-days in Philly, New York and Kansas City were great. You get to explore a new city, try new cuisines and stuff like that. You can always take a positive out of an off-day. It pays the same.”

Manager Rocco Baldelli

“It’s something that I’ve spent a lot of time with the staff talking about. It’s not a typical baseball schedule that we’ve had so far, so spending a lot of time thinking about how to keep our guys not just physically ready to play but also in a good frame of mind to be ready when they go out there has been something that we’ve talked about.”

“We’ve had multiple workouts, which typically I would probably be completely opposed to coming in and working out on off days or things like that. But you kind of have to get creative in these situations, so I would say it’s something that we do spend a lot of time on. But I think now that we’re in kind of a string of games, we can kind of fall into a routine.”

Starter Kyle Gibson

“I mean I think it’s the unscheduled ones that you kind of grow to appreciate a little more. Even though it normally causes a doubleheader later in the year. You try to take those and use them as best as you can. I would say it’s the number of days off scheduled at the beginning of the year that makes it harder. We probably could have gone with a three-man rotation to start things and we’re trying to fit five guys in to start the year. That makes it a little bit harder.

“Martin (Perez), as well as he threw in spring training, hasn’t started a game yet. It’s something that is tough, and that we try to navigate. I think for relievers as well — I’m just guessing here — they just appreciate the unscheduled ones. Sometimes when you get into a 20-game stretch, those are the guys — especially if your starters haven’t been rolling — have to wear the brunt of it. So those unscheduled ones they probably appreciate a lot.”

Apr 9, 2019; New York City, NY, USA; Minnesota Twins starting pitcher Kyle Gibson (44) pitches against the New York Mets during the first inning at Citi Field. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

“I don’t know, I end up doing something no matter what. If for some reason my start gets rained out or pushed back, I’ve got to play catch. Anytime I start after an off day and I don’t know, I normally get pretty stiff. So you’ll see me take my DuraThrow home, whether it’s a scheduled or unscheduled off-day. I have to get my throwing in. I’ll do it in the hotel or in my house and simulate a game of catch and get my arm moving. I just don’t deal as well with having days off; having two off in a row there with a snowout, showing up Friday and playing catch was a little stiff.”

“Normally my daughter gets involved, and she catches the connection ball and we have some fun with it. Her mechanics are improving.”

Broadcaster Dick Bremer

“Well, it’s different when you’re on the road. At home, it’s pretty easy as there’s always stuff to do, especially since we’ve been home like five or six days since the start of spring training. So the off-days on the road are tough. Much like a player wants to get into a rhythm where there’s a game every day, that’s true for us too. I had a couple of days off before finally getting this homestand started, and I was on the air yesterday and it felt like I hadn’t done a game in three weeks. You feel rusty, whether it sounds that way or not.”

“Well, I was busy at home when we had the back-to-back off-days. Even though with the snow there wasn’t much you could outside, that was more a function of being in spring training for five weeks, coming home for a few days and then hitting the road again. At home, there’s no shortage of things to do — either stuff you want to do or things you need to do. But the off-days on the road — players will tell you this too — those are the biggest challenges.”

“Generally I’m not much of a tourist-y guy anyway. I don’t go to museums and things like that. So when we knew we had an off-day in Philadelphia, the first thing you think of is the Liberty Bell. Well, I don’t think that’s changed much since I saw it 12 years ago, so there was really no point in going to see that again. I’m different than most people who travel, in that the usual tourist-y destinations don’t really interest me. And the ones that interest me, I’ve already seen. So that’s why the off-days on the road are a little more challenging.”

Reliever Blake Parker

“Well, it’s one of those things that falls under the category of things you can’t really control. So you just go out there and go about your business like you would without ‘em. But on another note, you wish you had more of them spread out throughout the season, obviously. You wish that come August and September you had a couple sprinkled in rather than a couple of two-week stretches without an off-day. I wish they were a bit more scattered, but that’s the way it goes and you have to prepare for it.”

“Yes and no. I like to get going and ramp it up. I definitely don’t like the doubleheaders. It’s always good to have some family time and downtime, though. I wish the unscheduled ones — I wish it would snow in July — were more spread out. I guess early on you kind of expect stuff like that, so that’s why they sprinkled in all those off-days. You just try to get some family time while you can and keep your mind on the game somehow.”

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