Matheny’s Quick Hitters – Friday, August 22

Summarizing St. Louis Cardinals manager Mike Matheny’s comments before his club’s first game in Philadelphia. He reminds us that no one should be considered irreplaceable, even Yadier Molina.

Pre-game remarks

On Matt Adams competing in the batting race to the end.

I think he can. He has had some big hits and shown good power. I think it is showing consistency as much as anything. He is taking good at-bats every game. I don’t think we have seen his ceiling either. I think he has room to get even better – both in power and average.

On Daniel Descalso.

He has been good, but Kolten has been good, too. We need to work with him on his consistency. Dan is going a great job when he has the opportunity.

On Jay being hot now vs. his low periods.

I think he has always been that kind of hitter. He is swinging it well. They come in bunches for him. He has been pretty consistent through his career. Right around .300 last year, a little off. He is another guy who has had really big hits for us in big situations.

On if Jay is bothered by not having a clear starting role at times.

I know it does. It was a really tough test on him. He is a guy once again when you look over his career – it hasn’t been that long - but he has been very consistent. He has always had a lot of pride as to how he has gone about his defense, too. He has taken some shots, but he has worked really hard at it. The whole package. He is really just a good baseball player. He is a guy who is always figuring out how to get better. When you have a talented guy who has that mentality, it is fun to watch.

On Jay’s defense in second half of 2013.

Maybe he was just a step off or two. He is getting very good jumps this year. He has the conscientiousness of being a centerfielder that wants to make a difference.

On Molina’s progress.

He is taking some swings, controlled swings. It is getting the rest of his swing back. Being immobilized like that stiffened him up a bit. He is coming back real quick and he feels happy where he is.

On Molina said to be irreplaceable.

Our perspective is a little different than the rest of the baseball world. Everybody was labeling him early on as a player we could not do without. That is a dangerous place to go because injuries happen in this game. If you start setting yourself up if lose this particular player, we’ve lost all hope and chances, it is bad spot to be. The way we look at it is, every one of our guys is real important. For us to put extra value on one guy over another I don’t think is fair. It happens every year. You’ve got to have that guy who steps up and does something special when the opportunity comes. This year, we needed A.J. and we needed Tony Cruz to fill the bill. They are obviously big shoes, but we can do that. We have to. These guys continue to compete regardless of who is out.

We’re obviously happy when guys get back because that gives us the opportunities to be even better. But we still have to go out there and compete.

It is a dangerous place to go for another reason because if something sets them back when everyone is expecting them back by a particular day that we are going to have these guys. If it doesn’t happen, and it does happen, injuries in these rehab situations, then there is a letdown. We focus on what we have and what we have is good enough. Just keep fighting, fighting every day.

On whether uncertainties about Molina and Wacha might affect September call up plans.

A lot of different things go into that decision. Some of it is rewarding guys but most of it is where do we need some help? Another consideration is where a guy is in his career. There are a lot of different variables that go into it. We are always excited to see the younger players show up. A little shot in the arm of energy and excitement. Plus you do reward some players for having a string year. Especially where we are now, it comes down to what is going to help us win, to help us get better.

On his daily choice of catcher.

Sometimes it is offense that we need. For today, it been more that we like what we see with Wainwright and Cruz working together. We put a lot of weight on not getting in the way of that. It is part that matchup with the pitcher, what the battery looks like. But sometimes it is just what we need. Make it look a little different if the pitcher has been having trouble. Sometimes a different set of eyes behind the plate can help.

On whether there is a difference in approach that is behind the recent offensive upturn.

No. It is exactly what we have been talking about since April. We just have to stay the course. It is going to come out in the wash. We have a good team. We have a very capable offense. As long as they don’t believe in all the negativity out there and also be careful that not to just think we can just roll our bats out there and score seven or eight runs a night. Just stay with what we have been doing – that is working hard, trusting ourselves, trusting each other, trusting the game plan and we will be alright.

On if this recent performance is the team he expected.

Yes. I am not surprised. I am trying to convince everybody else. It just doesn’t disappear. This is the same team last year that was leading a lot of categories offensively. Guys have up years and down years but the approach and the overall talent doesn’t change that fast. We’ve got a good offensive club. We’ve had our challenges this year finding a good rhythm. In 162, that cream rises to the top and you eventually see what a team is all about. Right now, I think we are on the rise.

On John Lackey.

He has been great. He is a professional. He is a really accomplished veteran. He comes in with a game plan of what he needs to do each game to give us a chance. He has done a nice job.

He is a big game pitcher. Whenever you have the opportunity to bring in a game-changer like that, a guy who has had great success in his career and fill in and help out, that is something any club would take.

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

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