Angels, Giants relish long layoff

? After not clinching playoff berths until the final week of the season, and fighting through two tough rounds of playoffs, the Angels and Giants are thankful for a little time off.

Instead of worries about getting rusty or losing momentum, the two teams welcome this respite before Saturday’s World Series opener.

“I think both teams physically needed to get out of the grind,” Angels manager Mike Scioscia said Thursday. “This gives us a couple of days to heal up. There comes a time when you need to mentally refocus and this gives us that time.”

The Angels won the AL pennant Sunday against Minnesota, one day before San Francisco wrapped up the NL championship against St. Louis. Both series ended in five games, leading to the break before the start of the Series.

The break has given the players time to heal some minor injuries, including Angels outfielder Tim Salmon, who was slowed by a balky hamstring in the ALCS.

“All the guys are banged up,” Scioscia said. “We had a tough season and two tough playoff rounds. We could use the time off. The layoff is good.”

Especially for the Giants, who had 10 playoff games in 13 days and crisscrossed the country on redeye flights.

“It has allowed us to get our energy and strength back,” manager Dusty Baker said. “We had been back and forth across the country as much as anyone in baseball. It’s good to get some rest. Hopefully, it’s not too much rest.”

Giants second baseman Jeff Kent agrees with his manager that the team needed a break.

“It’s good as far as to have some time to start gearing up,” Kent said. “If the NLCS had gone seven games, we wouldn’t have any time.”

Seven times in the past 13 World Series, one team has come in with at least five days off after the LCS. The layoff hasn’t made those teams rusty, as they’ve won four of the seven Game 1s and five of those Series.

Players have altered their workout schedules slightly. David Eckstein takes extra batting practice to keep sharp during the layoff, while Anaheim teammate Scott Spiezio doesn’t want to overdo it.

The Angels even did infield bunting defense drills for the first time since spring training.

“Sometimes I like to see live pitching,” Spiezio said. “A lot of times I’ll just stand in there and won’t swing. I just want to watch the pitches. One day I’ll take batting practice and one day I won’t.”