MILWAUKEE -- Russell Martin, the veteran catcher who ordinarily takes off a day game following a night game, was back behind the plate Sunday afternoon.
Sticking with Martin in the lineup was not only an indication of the premium placed by manager Clint Hurdle on the finale of this three-game series against the division-leading Brewers, but also a tip-off on the challenges the manager faces in trying to keep his main horses fresh for September.
Andrew McCutchen, Neil Walker and Martin were all pulled out for the last two innings of Saturday night's 10-2 blowout win.
"That's not a major break -- just gives them some time off their feet. We've got to monitor Walker and McCutchen moving forward," Hurdle said of the two stalwarts who recently returned from disabling injuries. "Russell did have those two days off [Wednesday's game, then Thursday's off-day], and we'll probably do it again next week."
Martin is due to stay in the lineup for the first two games of the Cardinals series, then rest on Wednesday, which again will be followed by a Thursday off-day.
"That will give him a nice recovery time, because we'll stretch him out to some degree as we continue to run out of games," Hurdle said.
The manager's leading personnel task: finding time off for the lineup's new iron man, Josh Harrison, who has had few breaks in the three months since becoming a regular.
"Fans don't like to hear about off-days," Hurdle acknowledged, "but we've got to find time for Harrison to get off his feet."
Clint Barmes could be the key to that. The veteran infielder is in the final laps of his rehab assignment with Triple-A Indianapolis, and is expected to rejoin the Bucs during the upcoming six-game homestand.
Tom Singer is a reporter for MLB.com and writes an MLBlog Change for a Nickel. He can also be found on Twitter @Tom_Singer. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.Less