Torre doesn't rest much on off-day

Torre doesn't rest much on off-day

WASHINGTON -- When you're two weeks shy of the end of the season and your team is heading into the home stretch, vying for the division title, is a scheduled "off-day" really a day off?

Knowing Dodgers manager Joe Torre, you can probably guess the answer.

A look at the Dodgers' September schedule shows an empty box for Monday, Sept. 21. But Torre didn't spend the day catching up on TiVo or Facebook messages.

For one thing, much of the day was spent doing the "reverse cross country" commute that he rarely experienced during those bygone days of being a skipper in an East Coast city.

Monday was a travel day for the Dodgers, who flew to Washington, D.C., to open a nine-game road trip that will see the Dodgers play three games against the Nationals, then four in Pittsburgh, finishing up with a flight back across the country for a two-game set in San Diego.

"The thing is I'm learning when you're on the left coast, your off-day is in the air," said Torre. "You leave there wheels up around 11:30, and you land around 7 o'clock, so the day is gone. You have dinner, and that's the end of the 'off-day,' so that's basically what happened."

But Torre, with a record 80 postseason wins under his belt, didn't become the game's winningest playoff manager by looking too far ahead. For now, there are still games to be won, pitching rotation decisions to be made and a roster of players to keep sharp. So Torre wouldn't have taken one of those "mental rest days" even if he had the chance.

"The off-day is good no matter where you spend it when you've played well -- then you can enjoy reading or watching a movie on the plane, and it's sort of relaxing," he said. "But I only use so much of the off-day to relax, because I'm constantly thinking about the next day, and there is always the anxiety of playing after an off-day because you have a tendency to be a little relaxed and you don't want that to happen."

Coming into Tuesday game, the Dodgers' magic number for a playoff spot remained at four after the San Francisco Giants stayed alive with a 5-4 win over Arizona on Monday night, while the Dodgers and Colorado Rockies were idle.

The Giants came into the night nine games behind the Dodgers in the NL West race, while the Rockies, hosting San Diego, were five games behind the Dodgers and leading the NL Wild Card standings by four games over the Giants and five over both Atlanta and Florida.

After the current nine-game trip, the club will have one more off-day, this one spent at home, before winding up its regular season with three games at home against the Rockies, a series that could well be meaningless on paper but very important -- perhaps an unofficial preview of the NL Championship Series.

Assuming the Dodgers wrap up another trip to the postseason, it will mark Torre's 14th consecutive year managing a playoff team, which will tie him with longtime Braves skipper Bobby Cox for the best such streak in baseball history. His 80 wins already top Cox's 66.

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