(BaseballStL) — By now everyone knows the relationship between Joe Kelly and Shelby Miller. They are best friends, best men in each other’s wedding and until a few days ago, teammates. Wednesday they face off as opposing starters at Busch Stadium, and Mike Matheny says he expects both pitchers will handle it well.
"I give these guys the benefit of the doubt that they’re taking their opportunities and realizing this is about a lot bigger things than a couple of buddies throwing against each other,” he said.
Matheny is no stranger to the closeness the two share. When Miller was married in southern Missouri after the end of last season, the Cardinal skipper and his wife drove down to attend.
“It was a great event. Very well done. Obviously Joe was there and his wife Ashley,” he said. “It was just a great day and you could tell there were close friendships.”
Matheny was unable to go to Kelly’s wedding in California, but said he doesn't shy away from his players' lives outside of baseball.
“I wanted to go to all the guys weddings, it was just between getting my own kids to the things they needed to be at it just didn’t work out,” he said.
At Miller’s wedding, the 43-year-old manager didn’t just attend, but said a prayer.
“I think the pastor had to head out early. I was fill in,” he smiled. “I’m sure they had a better option originally.”
Matheny said he was acutely aware of how many of Miller’s family members were around, and having come off a postseason where the rookie starter didn’t get a sniff, decided to open a chat with Miller’s grandfather.
“You could tell this guy was cool, too,” he said. “Shelby and he had a great relationship, so I just broke the ice and said, ‘Hey I realize you were pretty disappointed not getting to watch him throw and I understand.’”
Months removed from that postseason, Miller will get his shot against the Red Sox Wednesday. Though it won’t carry the weight of the World Series, it still comes with some added nerves, something Matheny hopes won’t get to either hurler.
“Oftentimes, there’s something you can draw extra drama about and I think that helps the show, but as far as the application of what we have to do, I don’t want Shelby to go out there and try to be superhuman,” he said. “I want Shelby to go out there and be good Shelby. If I had Joe in the same situation I’d say the same thing.”