Terry Francona Ensures Red Sox Get Required Rest to Grind Out 162-Game Season The All-Star break has been eyed as a much-needed respite for the Red Sox for weeks.

The team had 13 players on the disabled list when the three-day hiatus begins, and three of the six Boston players selected for the Midsummer Classic will be sidelined with various ailments.

It's a good time to kick your feet up, nurse some wounds and clear your head before the season's final two-plus months. Some might call it a necessity, what with the constant grind of 162 games in 183 days taking their toll on everyone involved.

However, the need to take a break permeates throughout the game, and not only during three days in mid-July.

A quick glance inside the Red Sox' clubhouse in the hours before a game shows just how important downtime can be.

There's Tim Wakefield with his leg crossed and a crossword puzzle spread out across his lap. Guys like Clay Buchholz, Daniel Bard and Daniel Nava are often seen strumming their guitars. It's not uncommon to find a group of players staring at the TV like 5-year-olds enthralled by Cookie Monster, totally unaware of the nonstop activity surrounding them.

Those hobbies are limited to short bursts, as baseball comes back to their minds and game preparation eventually beckons. When the season finally ends, that's when their real pastimes begin.

"We really look forward to getting together in the offseason," right fielder J.D. Drew said, when asked about his time away from the game with his brother, Stephen, a shortstop with the Arizona Diamondbacks. "With our families, doing some hunting and fishing, stuff that we like to do."

This time away from baseball and baseball-related activities is extremely important, as it is in most any occupation. Overworking can be detrimental to one's health and finding a balance between the job and everything else is paramount.

Of course, in a profession such as baseball, which sees fathers and husbands taken away from their families for long stretches at a time, spending time with loved ones is critical. Red Sox manager Terry Francona is aware of this and has made a notable effort to ensure that the clubhouse is as accommodating as possible in that regard. Sons of ballplayers are common sights, as are the occasional parents and aunts and uncles that pop in to say hi.

As benign as such activities may appear, they are borderline illegal, per Major League Baseball regulations. No matter, at least not to Francona.

"If we bend the rules sometimes, I really don't care," Francona said. "Sometimes we get a letter from the league. You know what? I'll take the letter."

When the Red Sox' skipper weighs the merits of such activities with the possible effects of not allowing his players to get away from the game a bit, it's an easy decision.