Matheny bumps Furcal to 8th, benches Jay
Friday, July 20, 2012
ST. LOUIS (AP) — St. Louis Cardinals manager Mike Matheny is shaking up his lineup in an attempt to wake up a slumbering offense, shifting leadoff man Rafael Furcal to eighth and putting Skip Schumaker at the top for the series opener against the Chicago Cubs.
Matheny also benched Jon Jay, giving Carlos Beltran a spot start in center field. Jay is 2-for-20 on the World Series champions’ 1-5 trip to start the second half, and in his career is 4-for-18 against Cubs starter Ryan Dempster, another reason to give him a day off.
“He’s got a swing that’s has a lot of moving parts, so he’s always been a pretty streaky hitter,” Matheny said. “He’s got a lot of timing to that approach, to his setup.
“If it’s off a little it’s pretty tough for him.”
Matheny declined to second-guess the decision to activate Lance Berkman from the 15-day disabled list without a rehab stint despite the fact Berkman missed 47 games with a knee injury. Matheny had been in favor of a rehab.
Berkman was hitless in his first nine at-bats since being activated.
“It’s easy now, it’s easy to go that way,” Matheny said. “You know what, he’s had some good walks, had some tough at-bats in some big situations and hit the ball pretty good and didn’t have anything to show for it.
“But I’m not going to jump on that now.”
The Cardinals scored 15 runs in a trip that left them in third place in the NL Central and five games out, tied for their worst of the season. They were just 8-for-51 (.157) with runners in scoring position.
“We understand there’s an urgency,” Matheny said. “Most of us are just really kind of amazed that we are where we are right now. Look around and we should be in a different spot.
“That’s the way we see it and we still see the best baseball ahead, but we’ve been saying that for a while.”
Furcal, batting eighth for the first time this season, was a career .141 hitter (6-for-41) against Dempster with one RBI. Schumaker was batting .431 (22-for-51) with six RBI against the right-hander.
Furcal had just one extra-base hit this month, plus was just 3-for-35 against the Cubs on the year.
“We want to get Raffy a little more comfortable at the plate and this is an opportunity to take a little pressure off him,” Matheny said.