Matheny's quick hitters – Tuesday, April 22

Matheny answering our questions

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

Pre-game remarks

On Jon Jay batting sixth: Trying to get some offense going with some guys who are taking good at bats. Jon Jay has been taking good at-bats.

On Allen Craig batting second: Allen Craig has really turned the corner right now. He looks good in that second hole. One thing you don't really do is mess with a guy who is feeling comfortable in a spot.

On Peter Bourjos (not playing Tuesday): Peter Bourjos is going to get his opportunities. A left-hander is going tomorrow (Jon Niese). Right now, Jon is taking the kind of at-bats we have to capitalize on to get something going. Every guy in that lineup has the potential to get us going.

Just trying to find his swing, like about half of our lineup. These guys are all flirting with getting locked in. It is hard for him, getting a couple of days off. That is difficult for anybody. We've got to get them all going. We've got to capitalize on opportunities when we are getting some pitching to construct a lineup that will give us the best chance to compete each night.

He will continue to improve. I like his approach at the plate. It is just getting good pitches to hit when he can when he gets the game opportunity. He has got the right approach. He is trying to stay through the ball. Just finding himself in deep counts and trying to hit tough pitches. That usually does not work out good for anybody.

On the centerfield job: The conversations I had with Jay before and Peter now are ‘Just get out there and play. Don't get caught up in all the possible scenarios. Control what you can control. Play the game. When you get the opportunity, that is all you can do. Plus we will stay in communication. I will tell you what I am seeing and you let me know what you are thinking.' We will try and do what is right for everybody.

Right now, Jon has earned the opportunity to go out there and keep something good going at the plate.

On Eric Fornataro's debut: I thought it was great. Especially after talking with him about what to do to be successful and help us out here. Pound the zone, trust your stuff, trust your defense. I think that was a great first outing for him. Just reassuring him that what he was doing at Triple-A to be successful – something he had not done on a consistent basis during his career. What he did there to be successful, he has the chance to do the same thing here if he stays with the plan. He is going to learn the league, studying which hitters you can use certain pitches to in certain counts. For right now, it is just trust your stuff and trust Yadi and there will be continuous steps you are going to take here.

On Fornataro not being among last cuts in spring, but first recall: We told him pretty much the same thing as the last three (competitors for a bullpen spot – Keith Butler, Jorge Rondon and Scott McGregor). You need to be the guy we are going to go to. You need to go down there and when we need someone you need to make it obvious that you are the guy most ready for the spot. Eric made it that obvious. He had a nice start. It is nice to see a guy go and do the work mentally with approach and physically with mechanics, make the adjustments, see some success and be rewarded.

On Fornataro in the spring – was getting cut a wake up call?: It didn't look like he was quite ready. The things we discussed – it wasn't really being translated into his opportunities in spring training. It was - OK, he needs to go and get some work (in minor league camp).

On the other hand, you saw Rondon jump right in and start to have success. It drew him out to the last couple of days (of spring training). For Eric, I don't know if it was a wake up call, I don't know exactly what it was, but he went and got to work. He made the adjustments. We talk about that all the time. This game is about making adjustments, sometimes your whole philosophy. He did a good job of simplifying, which gave him a chance of staying in the strike zone. The stuff can be overpowering and electric, but if you are not in the zone, it is not going to play here. He is learning some lessons real quick.

That was a tough spot for a guy to make his debut in a game that we were still in. It wasn't just, ‘we are up big or down big, here is your chance to get your feet wet,' it was in a big situation. I thought he came in and did a real nice job.

On whether Tyler Lyons' second start was decided before Monday's outing: We were going to watch him and see how he looked. I didn't do a good job after the game for giving him the credit he deserved. When your offense isn't able to do what it normally does, it amplifies every other aspect of the game, whether it be defensive or the mound.

But he did a good job. He really did. He could have easily walked out of here with a zero and a no-decision at the worst. If you look at how they did score. He impressed us and has done that a few times before when we give him opportunities. What we ask for is to give us a chance and he gave us a chance yesterday. We just didn't help him out a whole lot.

On Jason Motte: I think he is scheduled to throw again later today. (Update: Motte threw one inning in extended spring training on Tuesday. Jaime Garcia did not pitch.)

Post-game remarks

On Adam Wainwright's knee: No sign of ligament injury. Strength and mobility checked out ok. Scan not expected to be needed. Will be sore for a day or so. Will know more tomorrow. Seems like pretty good information for where they are now.

Was clear to Matheny that Wainwright needed to be taken out of the game, but he wanted to stay in and test it. Bullpen was ready and stepped up.

On Wainwright's pitching: Pitching like I have never seen him. Locating every pitch. You couldn't guess along with him if you tried. If you do guess, he is right there with you. He is actually baiting you. Throwing the pitch you are looking for a little bit off the plate. He is pitching as well as I have ever seen him. Part of the process is that he had the surgery (Tommy John) a few years ago and is continuing to get better. Also adding more weapons in his arsenal. Got everyone thinking curve, but has other pitches added in.

On Matt Holliday's home run-saving catch in the fifth: Great play. It was a tie game right there (had it not been caught). Likes his aggressiveness of defense right now. Charging and diving to keep ball in front of him. Aggressiveness and intensity. Also big RBI at end (top of ninth).

On Jon Jay (drove in two): Good day, good day for Jon.

On scoring in the fourth inning: We had a whole lot more on the table, though. I was hoping for a big jolt. Beggars can't be choosers right now. We will take what we can get. Jon Jay coming up with a real big hit to get us a couple of runs. It was exactly when we needed.

Want to make sure guys realize what they have done before is not a fluke. It is result of taking good at-bats. Stick with good at-bats. Stick with the process. The results will end up being there. Jay's at-bat was the example of what they have done to be successful in those kinds of situations.

On Albert Pujols' 500th home run: Huge Albert Pujols fan. Pleasure to know him away from field. Special player and career. Proud and happy for him. Impact in others' lives. Could see this season coming over winter. Not empty threats about coming back. Has ability like no one else has seen.

Join the pre-game, in-game and post-game discussion about each contest at The Cardinal Nation message board.



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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