"There's an expense of hurting somebody and their performance, I think it wanes as well," said manager Kirk Gibson, who has used a different lineup in each game in Cincinnati. "Normally, I would be more matchup-oriented, but you just have to do it."
With the risk of injury always threatening, Gibson said the staff keeps a close eye on the team's energy levels during stretches like these.
For example, both Miguel Montero and Stephen Drew had started all six games since the break. It was the first time all season Drew had played six consecutive days, and Gibson gave his shortstop a day off Thursday. Willie Bloomquist got the nod at short. Montero also got a break, with Henry Blanco starting behind the plate.
"You just kind of read their exertion levels and kind of read their bodies," Gibson said. "You see them in [the clubhouse] and follow them around for training activities, weight room activities and see how hot the game is. You just kind of take it all into consideration."
While the normal rigors of the schedule can take a toll on a player's body, right fielder Justin Upton said the 20-day stretch can be especially grueling.
Among games, workouts and traveling, Upton said the key to staying physically and mentally sharp is to conserve energy whenever possible.
"I think it's just being smart with your work load before the game and try to stay as fresh as possible," Upton said. "You're making sure you get your work in, but don't exert yourself too much and try to preserve your energy. Just being smart throughout the stretch is probably the biggest thing."
Upton, who has played in 85 of the club's 91 games entering Thursday, said he rests when he gets the chance.
"You make sure you get your sleep," he said. "Don't try to do too much and just kind of weather the storm."