(KMOV.com) — Peter Bourjos started the day hitless in a Cardinal uniform. Heading into the home opener, manager Mike Matheny was worried his young center fielder was pressing, so he moved him up in the order to number two.
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“Getting that first hit is a big deal. Getting it over with,” Matheny said before the game. The Cardinal skipper views the number two spot as a way to get hitters going, and Bourjos was next on the list.
The 27-year-old said he didn’t think much of it when he saw himself batting second, and in fact didn’t talk to Matheny about it before the game.
“Last year in Anaheim, hitting me behind [Mike] Trout a little bit, they tried to do that too,” he said. “You see a lot of fastballs, and here with Holliday obviously they’re not going to be pitching around you as much, trying to get you to chase. They’re going to come right at you.”
It wasn’t smooth, but Bourjos’ broken bat flair into center in the first inning did get that pesky first hit out of the way.
With that accomplished he got his first run out of the way, scoring on a double from Yadier Molina. Then for good measure, he did it all again.
Bourjos finished 2-for-5 with a double and two runs scored. In the seventh inning he used his speed to turn a ground ball into left into a double. Then he scored easily when Matt Holliday lofted a ball to the right field wall.
His final at bat was a strikeout in the eighth inning. That encounter has left Bourjos reaching for more, saying after the game he’s still not satisfied with his swing despite the two hits.
“I still want to make adjustments. I obviously want to cut down the strikeouts. I’ve struck out way too much to start the year,” he said. “Just really put the ball in play and simplify the approach. I think as the year goes on, it’s going to get better and it has to. If it doesn’t it’s going to be a long year.”
While the player is focusing on the long term, his manager saw success in his performance; something he hopes will lighten the load going forward for the new Cardinal.
“That first one took a ton of weight off his shoulders. He could just go out there and play,” Matheny said. “For a new team especially, for Peter to get going a little offensively is exactly what we were hoping for today.”