(BaseballStL) -- Manager Mike Matheny said that despite the return of Furcal to the lineup (he's been dealing with a sore back) he's not batting lead off. Matheny says once Furcal gets back to swinging the bat the way they know he can he'll unquestionably be back atop the lineup. Right now the Cardinals are simply going with the hot hand.
I found it interesting that Matheny used the word "urgency" when talking about the way his players are approaching things now. He also went out of his way to say they weren't just playing with a little bit of it...but they were playing with a lot of urgency. It's gotten to the point where the Cardinals sense the division is going to be a major challenge for them to win with the Reds having lost just 4 times since the All Star break. But they're only 2.5 games out of the final wild card spot.
Allen Craig batted 2nd with Jon Jay dropping to the 7th spot in the lineup Monday. Now, normally over the last several seasons we've had less to decipher with regards to the batting order because Tony La Russa loved to move players around. It wasn't unusual (and, hence, not a story) if something like this were to occur on his watch. But since Matheny has been pretty steady in where he has hit certain players -- or at least he's tried to -- it is more newsworthy when you see something like this. Matheny says Jay is still fighting things a little bit at the plate (his average is down to .284) and putting Craig in the #2 spot allows them to have a little bit more pop at the top. Plus, Matheny says when you hit Jay 2nd it usually pushes someone like Freese or Molina to #7 and that is "tough to do" according to the manager.
Matheny says last year taught these guys a lot about "not buying" into the outside distractions such as people saying something isn't possible. Like right now, it seems unlikely the Cards would be able to overtake the Reds and win the NL Central. But the manager is saying that is simply people outside the clubhouse saying that...and anyone inside shouldn't be - and aren't -- subscribing to that theory.