ST. LOUIS (KMOV.com) -- With seven games left in the season, the Cardinals are carrying out their frenetic playoff chase shorthanded.
In addition to the continued absence of Matt Holliday and trying to balance Aledmys Diaz’s recuperation with utilizing his substantial talent at the plate, St. Louis is now buying time for their best hitter after an injured finger has proven increasingly problematic.
Matt Carpenter’s right middle finger has been agitated for much of the season, and lately the discomfort has become untenable for the All-Star second baseman.
“[It] keeps getting flared up every time he doesn’t square a ball up. A swing and a miss, or yesterday the base hit off the end of the bat, it rings that finger and then it affects the strength in it. You can tell he’s not able to finish on some of his swings,” Mike Matheny said Monday.
Carpenter hit .233 in August and is hitting .210 in September with a slugging percentage of .346. He has been visibly aggravated by the finger a couple times after reaching base and his manager spoke to the compounding effect intermittent pain can have on a ballplayer’s psyche.
“It’s one of those things where it gets you enough times, you start to wonder and doubt your strength,” he said. “Your whole approach and whether you feel confident with what you’ve got.”
The Cardinals are hoping a day or two of rest will allow their leadoff man to get back to comfort, but Matheny said, “If it takes more than that and somebody else jumps in there and can help us do it, we’ll figure that out.”
Matt Holliday visited a specialist and got good news on his thumb, being cleared to continue his recovery work. That means the only question dictating how soon he can return is how quickly he can regain his strength and timing at the plate. The team will try to get him as much work as possible, but with all minor league seasons concluded for the year, their best outlet will be live batting practice sessions. With the regular season in its final week, Matheny said it isn’t outside the realm of possibility he deploys Holliday in game action without a huge ramp up if necessary.
DIAZ PAYS HIS RESPECTS
Aledmys Diaz left out of Chicago for a service honoring Jose Fernandez in Miami Monday morning. The shortstop was childhood friends with Fernandez in Cuba and was part of a gathering of the departed pitchers’ close friends and family. He planned to fly back to St. Louis and was expected to be available later in the game.