Matheny’s Quick Hitters – Tuesday, 5/19/15

Summarizing St. Louis Cardinals manager Mike Matheny’s comments before and after his club’s second game in New York.

Pre-game remarks

On John Lackey: Matheny had a “productive conversation” with Monday’s frustrated starter. Pitching a three-hitter, Lackey was removed Monday night after seven innings and just 76 pitches for pinch-hitter Peter Bourjos. The manager admitted that if it had been an American League game, Lackey “might still be pitching” (in the 14th inning). Instead, the Cardinals used seven relievers to cover the final 6 1/3 innings.

On whether resting several starters including Matt Carpenter and Matt Adams is based on splits: The splits always play. Want to keep everybody sharp. Been tough period for Carpenter. With all the travel, watching to see who could use a day off. If Monday night had not been 14 innings, this lineup could have been different.

On best case scenario for fourth inning shift against Lucas Duda Monday night: ”A mishit ball and the runner doesn’t score.” (The above Lackey photo was taken in the fourth as Lackey was frustrated.)

On plans to shift: ”We communicate with everybody what we are going to do.” This is not a good time to question the system. Want guys comfortable and confident and go with pitchers’ strengths. Tremendously more buy in now than in early years because has proven successful. League president trying to ban shifts because they limit offense. If a pitcher is not confident (with shift plan), walk the batter.

On Rafael Furcal retiring: ”What a great guy, teammate. Good for the game.”

On Kevin Siegrist: ”His breaking ball is coming along and his change-up is a huge asset. He has more zip (on fastball), too.”

On unavailable players Tuesday: Acknowledged there are probably some, but did not name them. With nine pitchers available, they decided not to make a roster move.

On injured Tommy Pham, rehabbing in Florida: No recent update.

On Jon Jay (who was taking ground balls at shortstop at the time): Swinging the bat today. His jammed thumb was impacting his swing. DL stint is good timing for him to gather strength. (No commitment, but my sense is that Jay shouldn’t be out much longer than the 15-day minimum. He went on the DL on May 15, retroactive to May 10.)

Post-game remarks

On Randal Grichuk’s three extra-base hits after five Ks Monday: “Nice comeback for him.” He hasn’t had too many at-bats (since return from injury). It is just baseball. Facing lefty, but also had good swing vs. righty. Generating confidence. Yesterday hit him hard – hit his confidence. ‘Did I need more time?’ (in rehab, he asked). Different hurdles for younger players.

On the offensive outburst: Many beyond Grichuk had big day. Relentless in approach. Individuals each had approach for what they were looking for. Tough at-bats all the way through.

On Michael Wacha: He is a better pitcher. Most come up (from minors) with two pitches. He had really good fastball and change-up. Has curveball and cutter now too. Adjusting.

On Wacha being hit by comebacker: He came back stronger. His left hand doesn’t do much (joking). Shook it off.

On whether Randy Choate batting and drawing a walk was a light moment: A fine line. Respect the other team, but good that players can laugh at themselves. Will be something Choate will not forget. Already asking to take BP with starters. All relievers want to hit. They think it is easy until they get in there.

On Sam Tuivailala: Excited to get him back out there. Introduced a new pitch tonight, a cutter that could “completely redefine” him. Introduced a little in spring training, but was already working on curveball and changeup then. Force-fed it to him today. Excited what it could open up for him. Don’t have to be as fine with cutter as fastball.

On Peter Bourjos scoring first run: “Who scores on that ball?” “Couple of guys in either league,” as the manager answered his own question.

On victory margin: It felt like the largest margin of victory (this season). (It was.)

On rest for players: Got a full day off for Jason Heyward and Carpenter and got Yadi and Holliday out early. But have also been working on things like Adams against LHP.

On scoring first and early: It was nice to get one run right out of the gate, but single runs (in each of first four innings) felt like missed opportunities.

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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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