Pirates Notebook: All hands will savor day off at home

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Keep an eye out around town and you might see a few Pirates with some free time on their hands.

For the first time since July 21, the Pirates have a day off in Pittsburgh. They will not have another until Sept. 8 -- 20 days and 21 games later.

"It's getting late in the year, everybody's tired throughout the whole league," Pirates reliever Chris Resop said. "All these off days are very much appreciated this time of year."

The Pirates have had one day off in the past 28, and that free time was sandwiched between road games in San Francisco and Milwaukee.

"A day off at home is much better than a day off on the road," Pirates manager Clint Hurdle said. "You're in your own bed, you're in your own environment, you're in your own comfort zone. Much better. They don't even compare. You like the day off on the road, but it's so much better [at home]."

Resop said days off -- at home or one the road -- are good chances for players to rest, mentally and physically. But being at home is a bit more comfortable, he said.

"You have time to spend with your family and things like that -- just everyday things," he said. "You have your vehicle here, you have your own bed to sleep in. You're used to things like that. On the road it can be tough, sitting in a hotel all day and trying to find things to do. It can be challenging at times."

Hurdle tries to be as active as possible with his out-of-town time off.

"If you're on the road, you might go out to see something," Hurdle said. "If I was in Boston, I went and did the Freedom Trail. I looked for something to do that I would not normally do just to disengage completely."

The days off are especially important for a young team such as the Pirates, whose players still are adjusting to a 162-game schedule. Hurdle said it usually takes a player two years to make that adjustment.

"When you're young, you're bullet proof," Hurdle said. "You think you can do anything. The games do pick up -- the innings, the intensity. There's a lot more tension involved than in minor league games. There's just a lot more going on. So, the mental side of it can erode, as well."

Rare burst of power

For a team that went more than 200 at-bats between home runs in July, the Pirates have shown some power recently.

They hit five home runs in the first two games of this homestand and have homered in their past five games at PNC Park.

"Sometimes, you don't get any home runs and, all the sudden, you get a ton that come in bunches," said Garrett Jones, who hit the Pirates' winning homer Tuesday night.

Neil Walker said the Pirates have tried to be more aggressive at the plate, especially with fastballs. He hit a fastball for a home run Tuesday.

"Baseball is a very streaky game," he said.

Of Paul and padding

Hurdle said outfielder Xavier Paul, who rolled an ankle running out of the batter's box and slammed his knee into a wall in foul territory Tuesday, should be OK. He was not in the starting lineup Wednesday.

"He's built like a manhole cover," Hurdle said. "The kid's tough."

Hurdle said he might suggest the Pirates add padding to the concrete walls in foul ground.

"It's not until a situation like that happens that it gets brought up," Hurdle said. "You'd hate to see somebody get hurt because of it."

Buried treasure

• Hurdle said the Pirates are considering calling up Ross Ohlendorf for a spot start in the doubleheader Monday against the Milwaukee Brewers.

• Today would have been the late Roberto Clemente's 77th birthday.



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