Walton's Cardinals New York series minutes

Brian Walton's notes from the St. Louis Cardinals' four-game series against the Mets in New York.

With the end of month player awards, prospect rankings and draft preparation, I have been very busy the past few days. As a result, my reports from the major league club's series in New York have been scattered at best.

What follows is a summation of what I heard and saw over the four-game series at Citi Field. As the quotes get older, I will look for more unique comments.

Monday, 6/4

The team bus arrived late, at about 11:05 am local time. Matheny said it was pre-planned due to the short period since Sunday's game. Treatment players were still expected to arrive in time.

Slumping David Freese had a laugh when he pulled a broken bat out of the bag before the game, quipping, "That's what comes from expanding the zone." Equipment manager Rip Rowan said he collects all the broken lumber from the road trip and brings it back home.

Shane Robinson said he is feeling better after having been removed from Sunday's lineup with what the outfielder says is his first-ever migraine. Matheny said Shane was "pretty loopy" yesterday after being prescribed meds. Adron Chambers is again starting Monday.

The manager is "not worried" about Matt Adams. He is starting Allen Craig because he is "swinging the bat well," but admits that it would be "a tall order" to ask Carlos Beltran to play centerfield. Beltran is "not at that place right now" (health-wise). "He is kind of grinding now for our sake," Matheny concluded.

Jaime Garcia has a flight to arrive in Houston on Monday. He will proceed as a normal start, but the manager said they will check on him between every inning Tuesday.

Matheny said not to be concerned about an increase in strikeouts, noting the Mets three starters were two left-handed pitchers and a knuckleballer. An offense that fought in every at-bat is the kind of team they are. "Do we have some guys pressing? Yes. It is normal… guys want to change."

Doing something different was part of the manager's explanation for moving Yadier Molina to the fourth spot on Monday.

Matheny's son Tate is not traveling to Houston to be with his Dad during the draft. Dad told an amusing story about sitting by his phone for three days when he was draft-eligible, only to have the Blue Jays tell him later that they forgot to call.

Regarding the draft, Matheny called it "A big day for the Cardinals. It may be the biggest draft in the history of the organization." Matheny noted he and the coaches may be seeing some of them in spring training 2013.

My final image before the game was Mitchell Boggs turning up the music in the clubhouse at 11:50 am. "Pour Some Sugar on Me" was the tune. It was the first time all series there was anything on in the clubhouse before the game other than the televisions.

Sunday, 6/3

With ESPN covering the game, Terry Francona was in the clubhouse before the game and drew more attention than Orel Hershiser. Francona went over to meet Matt Adams, with the former Red Sox manager noting he grew up in Beaver Falls, PA, not far from Adams' home.

Matheny on sending down Brandon Dickson: "He wasn't getting any work. It was not fair to him."

On using Victor Marte multiple innings: "I stretched him. It wasn't a trial. We had to have our best shot. That's where we are."

On not using Sam Freeman: "I don't want to throw him into those tight spots every time."

On Lance Lynn's workload increase: "We're living here and now." Might consider workload reduction when Carpenter returns but they don't have that "long term game plan" yet.

On Roy Oswalt: "Or GM was seriously trying to make Oswalt happen."

On his club: "We're in fight mode now as a team."

On the National Anthem, which had been moved up from 7:47 PM to 7:16 PM for John Franco's Mets Hall of Fame induction: "I have assigned Aldo (bench coach Mike Aldrete) to make sure I am there." Matheny fines those who miss the Anthem, including himself. In a nice touch, Franco walked over to the Cards dugout after his ceremony and shook Matheny's hand and several coaches' hands as well.

On Jon Jay: "He is doing the same – resting."

Saturday, 6/2

Matheny noted that he witnessed a Scott Erickson no-hitter against the Brewers and missed catching Bud Smith's no-hitter by one day. He caught knuckleballer Steve Sparks while with Milwaukee.

On Sam Freeman's debut during the opposing no-hitter: "Life is about stories… It was good for him to get his jitters out."

On Maikel Cleto: "He can carry his velocity late in to outings… Will also pitch multiple innings for us… Has to back off (on velocity) and pound the zone… Comes across his body to hide the ball well." Molina has great value in eliminating the language communications barrier.

On Matt Carpenter: Progressing well. Doing baseball activities. Working so hard in rehab they were "worried he might lose too much weight."

On Chris Carpenter: "Doing rotary moves with med ball."

On the draft deadline: "I like the earlier deadline. Some guys lose their first season otherwise."

On instant replay: "I don't feel that strongly one way or the other." "You just like to get the calls right. The balance is 4 ½ hour games. If I had a review (during Santana's no-hitter), I would have used it." "There are so many decisions in the game already, I don't know where you would draw the line."

On the umpire blown call: "I had to see that mark on the line there the rest of the game. I didn't point it out (to 3B umpire Adrian Johnson) as I didn't want to be ejected." "I was proud of our guys taking the high road." (no complaining)

Friday, 6/1

As the opening photo showed, the pre-game focus was on Carlos Beltran's return to New York. Of course, the post-game attention shifted to Johan Santana's no-hitter.

Matheny on Carlos Beltran: In spring training, he worked with minor league outfielders when not with the big league club.

On bullpen changes (Freeman and Cleto): "I am fooling with the recipe a bit in the pen. It gives us a couple of good young arms."

On Victor Marte: He was good against LHB such that MM "viewed him as the second left-handed pitcher." But he wanted a traditional lefty given all the LHBs in the Mets lineup.

On team's personality: "Still developing." 20 games without break developed character. "Haven't had a good run yet." Noted Skip is a leader along with Chris Carpenter and Lance Berkman, but in their absence, "others take the ball and run with it."

On Skip: "he comes back soon because he keeps his body in shape… He has an aggressive program (rehab)… It kills him to be on the DL. We need to have him around."

Though there is no cheering in the press box, the Mets media relations crew can be excused for celebrating the club's first no-hitter in 8,020 games. I took the following photo from the last row.

Brian Walton can be reached via email at brian@thecardinalnationblog.com. Also catch his Cardinals commentary daily at The Cardinal Nation blog. Follow Brian on Twitter.

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