MILWAUKEE - With the first half (and then some) in the books and the Cards back in the pennant hunt, Mike Matheny’s thoughts after Sunday’s game turned to the All-Star Game Tuesday night in Minneapolis.
And the first-time all-star skipper made one thing clear on Sunday: “It’s all about winning the game.”
The Cardinals’ manager has been updating statistics and performances by the all-stars who will compete in the mid-season classic on a daily basis. He said managing the game has not been a distraction as the Redbirds have made their push toward the top of the division. But he has had to keep a list ready in case of last-minute replacements.
Because several potential all-star starting pitchers were scheduled to throw Sunday, Matheny was still prepared to issue last minute invitations to replace pitchers who have the right to decline to throw in Tuesday’s game. Johnny Cueto was the most notable potential starter who wasscheduled to throw the Reds’ final first half game. “We could well be in the air (on the way to Minneapolis following Sunday’s game) and not know who is available,” Matheny said.
Although speculation is that he will start Cardinal ace Adam Wainwright who threw just under 100 pitches Saturday, Matheny would not reveal his plans, saying only that Wainwright had bounced back well with no lingering arm or elbow issues. “We well watch his pitch count Tuesday,” Matheny said.
“I’m excited to be there and be part of the game. I looked at the names that will be on the National League team and it’s just overwhelming. While it’s about respect for the guys, it’s all about winning the game. Players will have roles, butI want it to be clear that we want to win. We are going to tell them that we’ll play it like the postseason is on the line because for some of them in the room, it will be,” he said, citing the lopsided advantage that home teams have enjoyed in the World Series since the game determined home field advantage.
The Cards’ skipper said he has not thought about the weekend series with the Los Angeles Dodgers and how he will prepare his pitching rotation. The Cardinals have six of the next 11 days off, four for the break and then one before and after the two-game Tampa Bay series. That means the Cards could go with a four-man rotation for the first three series of the second half, although Matheny did not indicate that was his plan.