(BaseballStL) — As Allen Craig continues to search for answers at the plate, Mike Matheny searches for the right lineup formula.
Wednesday’s incarnation features Oscar Taveras second in the order with Craig playing right and hitting seventh.
“We’re Kind of looking right now, ‘what do we have going on? What do we need to do to win tonight?” Matheny said of the steady lineup shuffling. “I don’t think there is a perfect balance. The only real answer is to do what we think is right and it becomes pretty obvious whether we were right or not after we try it a little while.”
Taveras will start in center field, giving Jon Jay a scheduled day off. For Craig, it’s the latest in a string of moved designed to jumpstart his bat. A year after driving in 97 runs and making the All Star team, the 29-year-old is hitting .246 with 67 strikeouts.
“Things like sitting on the bench yesterday, hitting seventh today, those are both not necessarily things that Allen Craig is accustomed to,” Matheny said. “What Ideally we’d like to see is us have about eight guys that would all fit in that two or three or four spot. But right now we are where we are and I know Allen understands that.”
The Cardinal manager said he’s had several conversations with Craig about his struggles, likely more than the right fielder would like. The skipper makes a point to discuss days off and lineup changes with players, and generally keep lines of communication open.
“I think it’s best to hear that from the guy’s mouth that’s drawing that lineup together,” he said.
Even with the last two games, the Cardinals are 13th in the NL in runs, seventh in hits last in home runs. They are within striking distance of the division heading into the break, and Matheny said Wednesday he’s looking at anyway he can to win games.
“I think we’d all like to see one through eight, this is who we are, this is we’re going to be. Fire them out there every single day, that’d be great but that’s not who we are right now,” he said.
Back To The Beginning
Joe Kelly rejoined the Cardinals Wednesday, and the club has all but confirmed he will start Friday in Milwaukee. It’s a return to the scene of his April 16 hamstring injury, when he pulled it running out a bunt at Miller Park.
Before he went on the DL, he held an ERA of 0.59 in three starts.
“It’s good to get him here and let everybody get their eye on him, hands on him, and make sure everything looks and feels as good as what we had hoped,” Matheny said. “Everything feels good. For us it’s been, ‘are you feeling anything? Are you tentative with the hamstring? and then, ‘Ok how’s it feel shoulder-wise? Is your arm feeling like it’s getting built up?’ Then it comes down to touch and feel.”
Kelly seems to have passed all tests, and will be set to return for a crucial series with the division leaders heading into the season’s intermission.
Pen On The Mend
Kevin Siegrist is also on the verge of returning, and will begin rehab work in Springfield. The lefty has been on the DL since May 24 with a nerve injury. First his forearm was giving him trouble near the hand, and his recovery hit a roadblock when his shoulder wouldn’t get loose in rehab sessions.
He appears to be through both and heading toward a return, though the team will need to see him check a few boxes before he’s back in St. Louis.
“How many he goes, I imagine we’re going need to see him go multiple innings, probably back-to-backs,” Matheny said. “That’s barring something happening here where we would need him.”
1) Matt Carpenter 3b
2) Oscar Taveras CF
3) Matt Holliday LF
4) Matt Adams 1B
5) Jhonny Peralta SS
6) Yadier Molina C
7) Allen Craig RF
8) Kolten Wong 2B
9) Lance Lynn P