Matheny’s Quick Hitters – Thursday, 5/21/15

Summarizing St. Louis Cardinals manager Mike Matheny’s comments before his club’s final game in New York. Mark Reynolds has been unexpectedly good in the clubhouse.

Pre-game remarks

On “hopes and thoughts for Jaime Garcia’s start: Hope he will take nine (innings). Thoughts are being excited to have him healthy. Usually gives us opportunity to win. Exactly what we need right now. Not in spot where he is building up pitches. It is about competing and winning.

On Sam Tuivailala being sent to Memphis: He needed to go back and continue to work. As good of an assignment as he could have had. Corrected 2nd night. With an arm like his, he could be a big piece of the puzzle. Will be throwing cutter. Getting feel for curve and change-up, when to use them. Can attack zone with 100 mph fastball and cutter. Cutter 87-89 now, but could increase to 93-94 as he manipulates grip.

On Mitch Harris earning his stay vs. Navy backstory: People understood why he is here. He still has more to accomplish. Done nice job getting outs. Making adjustments midstream here. No doubt about his heart, toughness.

On Randal Grichuk batting fifth: It is a reflection of the makeup of the club and the versatility in the players.

On Molina and Holliday taking day off: Trying to do more scheduled days off. For example, told Peralta he could not take day off because others are. Get the guys “grinding” a day off. Evolves as he talks with guys. Sometimes mental break vs. physical break needed.

On whether LHPs who have good sinkers like Lyons and Garcia are unusual: Most lefties have a sinker. Question is whether or not they use it. Had to teach Marco Gonzales sinker when he arrived. Down and in to right-handed batters. Cutter seems to be pitch of this generation. Ask Mariano (Rivera) about it being a weapon.

On putting pressure on players: Have to be ready, but not add pressure. They have to compete. Always someone (else) knocking on door. The message of a sense of urgency is ongoing part of this club.

On Jason Heyward’s uptick in performance: Working hard on making mechanical adjustments with John Mabry. Also fitting in here, too. Like Peralta last season (started slowly in first year with team). Huge expectations. Not shy about that. A lot to throw on somebody. Takes time to get into rhythm, know you don’t have to carry the team.

It takes time to build trust and rapport with staff. Guys work on stuff all winter long. Don’t want to come in and have them throw out adjustments.

Heyward has “long levers – gets extension” (with arms). Has some tools. Can do some special things. “Ball last night was hit a long ways.”

On designated hitter in American League cities coming: Something he considers – day off or DH for players? Sometimes, he tells player that he needs him in a particular spot, based on match-up, for example. Includes players in thought process.

Has someone in mind for DH in Kansas City, but not ready to say. Probably not Molina, who gets a day off when not catching, rather than DH.

On Mark Reynolds fitting in: Did not expect the level of energy and respect he generates. Experienced. Matheny likes guys who laugh at themselves. Creates atmosphere. Takes ribbing well, but dishes it out himself – busts on himself.

Spoke with him on phone during winter meetings. Discussion was all about winning environment, culture (not role or playing time). Told to come out and play and if he presents the best option to win, he will be in there (lineup).

On whether difficult to sit Holliday when he is going well: Hard to give a day when you have talent level like Matt. For the long haul, good of the team, you’ve got to take a day once in a while. He understands that.

Post-game remarks

On Jaime Garcia’s start: “He was very good today.” Leading off innings with walks doesn’t lead to good things, but he adjusted. Had confidence one good pitch away from double play. His stuff looked right. His first clean inning was his last so there wasn’t a doubt he was ready (to pitch deeply into the game).

Was watching his stuff (not body language) and stuff was there – swings and misses on balls in dirt. He has stuff like no one else has. Effectively moving more than others. Most reassuring was not many hits, not many runs. Others tried reached 100 pitches in three or four innings.

On Jacob deGrom: Was good to stop Cardinals offense (which scored 19 runs the last two games). Good stuff. Fastball overpowering. Off-speed kept hitters off balance.

On good from the loss: Play one at a time. This was a bad one. Don’t look further than that.

On Randal Grichuk: Just an exciting player. Aggressive approach, speed and plus throwing arm. Keep watching him work on little things – positioning, jumps. Key for him is to stay on field. Saw him at park early following detailed medical program for his back.

Seeing him play reckless rather than aggressive. “I am alright with that.” Play game with instincts you have. “If I told him to back off, where would we be in this series?”

On Lucas Duda: Cardinals look at last 10-15 games to evaluate opponents. What they are doing most recently. Most clubs probably do same. He is a step ahead adjustment-wise. Right now, he is a different hitter. Many strengths, few weaknesses displayed.

On whether Garcia will pitch next turn: “I hope he is out there in five days.” This was a “glaring hole in our squad.” Not falling into trap of saying “Where’s Waino?” Were still in game late, 2-0 score. With Jaime, going day by day.

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