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Players get immense benefits from days off

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BOSTON -- Manager Joe Maddon has always talked about the energy Yunel Escobar brings to the Rays, but how can he tell when the shortstop needs a day off?

"In talking to him and watching him on the field, I can see when something might be getting to him a little bit," said Maddon, who noted Escobar had not been in the lineup for Wednesday night's rained-out game. "I was looking to get him the day off. I was going to try and figure out that moment. I was thinking about it [Tuesday] against [Boston starter John] Lackey, but his history against Lackey was really good, offensively."

In answering the question, Maddon alluded to having lunch Wednesday with former Major League shortstop Orlando Cabrera to illustrate what he tries to do with players when they get the day off.

"[Cabrera and I] were together in Anaheim. I remember a day, and I was talking to him about this, we gave him a day off and were playing at Shea Stadium at the time," Maddon said. "He was upset that he had the day off and I went up to him in the locker room and I said, 'Don't argue about the day off, and while you're taking the day off, take the day and enjoy the Major League Baseball game and understand that you're one of the best players in the game -- and really understand it from that perspective."

Maddon surmised that when he gives a player a day off he doesn't want the player to "turn [the game] off," instead, "understand what's going on in front of you, and I think it really refreshes a lot of what you believe and why you wanted to do this in the first place."

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

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