August off-days a bonus ahead of stretch run

August off-days a bonus ahead of stretch run

NEW YORK -- The Rays originally had six off-days in August, but that number got reduced to five because of  the makeup game against the Royals in Kansas City on Aug. 26. Nevertheless, five off-days in a month is still rare.

The schedule, though odd, is agreeable to Rays manager Joe Maddon's way of thinking because of the nature of a 162-game season.

"I think in August you tend to be a little more tired," Maddon said. "I think it's just a hotter time of the season. They call it the dog days of August for a reason. September comes up, you have extra players [because of the expanded roster]. And I'll tell you, if you're in the hunt, you know the weather's cooling off and there's kind of an adrenalin thing during the day that you don't want days off. So I think if you needed to regroup and get strong and replenish, I prefer doing that conceptually in August."

Sam Fuld agreed with his manager.

"I think there's some truth to that," Fuld said. "I think you get some added energy [in September] from callups. I think the days that you need to dig the deepest are probably August. Although, at this point, we're in late July and I feel like we're kind of thriving off the playoff race already, like we're already checking the scoreboard every day.

"I think we really had to grind a couple of years ago when we were several games out in August. That's when I felt like it was just sort of a challenge to get up every day. It helps that we're winning so much right now. I think, all things else being equal, August is the most difficult month to get your emotions going."

Bill Chastain is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.