Day off no big deal
Angels, Sox offer a collective shrug to series scheduling
ANAHEIM -- A day after opening their American League Division Series with a Wednesday night thriller, the Angels and Red Sox had to dial things back with a day off before Friday's Game 2.
They'll get another day off Saturday before Game 3 at Boston's Fenway Park, and their respective thoughts on the stop-and-go schedule ran the gamut as each team prepared for a light workout Thursday at Angel Stadium.
Some like the brief respite, viewing it as a mental breather that doubles as a much-needed day for the dinged-up.
"It definitely helps me regroup," said Red Sox outfielder J.D. Drew.
Drew has a back issue and played for only the third time in more than a month during Boston's 4-1 victory Wednesday.
"I have a full 48 hours to recover, so that's nice," he said.
Others would just as soon strap it back on as soon as possible.
"It's kind of weird," said Angels outfielder Torii Hunter. "I've been in the playoffs five times now, and this is the first time I've had a day off after the first game. It's not a bad thing, but it's a little strange to get so pumped up and then have to sit for a day."
More than a few players in each clubhouse, however, thought the "Off-day Factor" is no factor at all. It doesn't hurt, it doesn't help. It just is.
"I don't think anyone minds," said Boston third baseman Mike Lowell, who didn't even mention the extra time he's getting to rest his bum hip. "I think it's almost a non-issue for both teams."
GAME 2: JUST THE FACTS
|Red Sox starter: RHP Daisuke Matsuzaka|
|2008: 18-3, 2.90 ERA|
|2008 on road: 9-0, 2.37 ERA|
|2008 vs. Angels: 0-1, 10.80 ERA|
|Career vs. Angels: 0-1, 10.80 ERA|
|Career postseason: 2-1, 5.03 ERA (four starts)|
|Angels starter: RHP Ervin Santana|
|2008: 16-7, 3.49 ERA|
|2008 at home: 5-5, 4.03 ERA|
|2008 vs. Red Sox: Did not face BOS|
|Career vs. Red Sox: 1-2, 5.73 ERA|
|Career postseason: 1-1, 6.17 ERA (one start, two relief appearances)|
|Red Sox lead series, 1-0. Boston has beaten the Halos 10 consecutive times in the postseason, matching the longest stretch of playoff victories by one team over another.|
|Game 1: Red Sox 4, Angels 1|
|Did You Know? The last time the Angels beat the Red Sox in October was in 1986.|
Then, with a sly, knowing smile, Lowell channeled Will Ferrell's character in a classic frat-party scene from the movie "Old School," leaving a handful of older scribes surrounding him befuddled.
"There's a Home Depot right next to the hotel," Lowell said. "Might go to Bed, Bath and Beyond ... I don't know. I don't know if we'll have the time."
There were plenty of smiles in the Angels' clubhouse, too. First baseman Mark Teixeira is among those who dig the days off, noting that they "allow you to take your mind off things a little bit."
"Off-days are never a bad thing," he continued. "We'll just go out today, take some swings, take some grounders and have a little fun."
Moments later, Angels reliever Justin Speier underscored Teixeira's comment about having fun by barging into the room wearing a red-and-black, short-sleeved, short-legged, one-piece wetsuit complemented by a pair of black swim fins and a boogie board tucked under his left arm.
Soaking wet and trying -- but failing -- to appear frantic through an irrepressible smile, Speier flopped around yelling, "I heard we have practice today! Do we have practice today?"
Angels manager Mike Scioscia walked through the room moments later, took one look at Speier, chuckled, shook his head and loosed the kind of dismissive wave a grandmother might give a harmlessly unruly child.
"I told him the next flippers he wears are going to be made of cement," Scioscia said.
Red Sox reliever Manny Delcarmen sounded like he'd like to give some cement flippers to the person in charge of the on-and-off routine.
"It's a little tough," Delcarmen said. "We did it last year, too, but I'm not a big fan of it,"
"Days off are tough," echoed teammate Dustin Pedroia. "To play a game and then have a day off is kind of a letdown."
Angels catcher Mike Napoli is with Delcarmen and Pedroia, but he admitted that he might feel differently had the Halos won Wednesday.
"It kind of stinks that we're not out there trying to win a game today," Napoli said.
"It's definitely better after a win," Delcarmen conceded. "You lose the day before and you just have to marinate in it longer."
Boston catcher Jason Varitek disagreed in the serious, fatherly tone he frequently takes.
"Does it make the off-day any better after a win? No. We still have to have the same focus on the next game," Varitek said.
Hunter, who spoke of the need for his team to have "amnesia" about Wednesday's loss, said the day off might help in that regard. "It does give you a little more time to get that first game out of your system and relax a little," he explained.
Lowell opined that the only significant impact of the day off is that it allows each team's Game 1 starter enough rest to be ready for Game 4. And while Red Sox slugger David Ortiz added that the older veterans might benefit from more rest, he seemed to think that any talk about the days off is, well, all wet.
"It's not a big deal," Big Papi opined. "That's the playoffs, man. We've been doing this for a while. You play a game, you're off, you play another.
"It's better than playing no games at all, right?"
Mychael Urban is a national writer for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.