PostCards: Mike Matheny talks before World Series Game 4


St. Louis Cardinals manager Mike Matheny addressed the media prior to World Series Game 4 against the Boston Red Sox.
Oct 25, 2013; St. Louis, MO, USA; St. Louis Cardinals manager Mike Matheny (22) talks with the media during a press conference a day before game three of the World Series against the Boston Red Sox at Busch Stadium. Image Credit: Jeff Curry-USA TODAY Sports
Q. How is Allen Craig today?

MIKE MATHENY: He was sore yesterday but everything came back clean. He’ll be ready to go, if we need him.

Q. Over the last few days you’ve talked about your club. Obviously how many rookies you have on your pitching staff, how you guys try to have fun, the process for those young guys of learning how to pitch. How important has Wainwright been to that whole scene and the environment?

MIKE MATHENY: Well, I think we’re very fortunate to have an ace that fills that role. And also a Chris Carpenter who kind of filled that role for him, who’s still around and is a voice and was very active in what we’re trying to do in teaching these guys, one, how to go about their business on the mound, but, two, all the extra things they have to do to prepare and for in between and what it looks like to be a pro.

You don’t have many opportunities like this one to have those kinds of guys in place that exemplify that, too. And it’s also good to have a couple of different personalities. You’ve got Carp who is just the stoic competitor, always fierce. And then you have that in Adam Wainwright, too, but the other lighter side. It allows these guys, if that’s who they are, to feel free, like a Joe Kelly, to go ahead and be himself.

Q. Is Craig going to continue defensive work or is that shelved in light of last night? And can you revisit your emotions and thoughts as you watch him trying to get around the bases last night?

MIKE MATHENY: We’re going to wait and see how he feels when he gets out here. He’s been working with the doctors to try to get everything loose again. The defensive work is really kind of secondary to have him available to come in and do what he did last night. Yesterday he looked very good going home to second. He ran extremely well, as good as we’ve seen him. Didn’t think that we were going to do much more running, but that changed quickly.

But as far as how things progressed with him, it’s going to be a wait and see as far as today goes, and we’re optimistic that he’s going to continue to progress.

And the feelings yesterday, it was highs and lows all mixed together there. You know, with the ball almost getting through. They made a great play. And getting Yadi at the plate. And then just trying to do whatever we could, everybody that was trying to grab him and pull him faster. Absolutely admire a guy who’s given everything he’s got when maybe his body doesn’t want to. And that’s what a competitor does. That’s what this stage does to a competitor, also.

Q. As you’re watching that final play unfold last night, do you see immediately that it’s obstruction? And if they hadn’t called that, how do you think you would have reacted if he would have been out at the plate?

MIKE MATHENY: Well, there was lots of noise, first of all, through the whole stadium and then our dugout the same thing. You could hear, “He’s in his way. He tripped him.” You could see the conversations all starting to happen. But as the ball went past, it looked to me even as he got tripped up, I thought he was going to be in pretty safe. They did a good job of getting the ball in and making it more of an issue, than it really could have been.

We were all kind of in conversation yelling the same thing, at the same time, everybody is pointing around at what they saw. But fortunately the umpires, it’s left in their hands and they did what they needed to do.

Q. To follow up on Craig, when you say “he came back clean,” are you talking X‑ray, MRI?


Q. How the game ended and how emotional it was, do you go home and watch a million replays? Do you stay up celebrating? Do you go right to sleep? What happened after that?

MIKE MATHENY: I think our fans didn’t even know what to do. We were wanting to celebrate, but we see a guy laying there and it’s all confusing. And we see the umpires come together, and that didn’t work out real good for us last time. We’re all kind of cautiously celebrating, and then we get inside and actually we got inside the clubhouse, and it was still kind of that somber mood. And Chris Carpenter yelled out real loud, “Hey, boys, we just won a World Series game.” So that changed it a little bit.

We’re all trying to get our heads around what happened. A lot of us had to go through that game and realize that we had a lot of things that didn’t go the way we wanted it to go, and not very often do you have that many missed opportunities against a very good team. You miss those, you don’t typically end up on the winning side. There were a lot of things pointing in a bad direction for us, but fortunately the guys kept putting their heads down, and you see guys do a special thing on a special stage, and one of those being Allen Craig stepping up in that situation and getting something done. It was a good night, but there was a lot to process.

Q. Matt Holliday is one of the players with the most postseason experience and one of the reasons you are at this point right now. Can you talk about your experiences managing him since you took over the Cardinals last year, and also how he has been doing in this postseason to be so productive.

MIKE MATHENY: Matt is a special player. There’s just a special few guys who have that résumé of what they’ve been able to do during the season for a long period of time. And he’s a leader in our club by how he goes about his business. Just a rock for us. He’s one of pillars in our clubhouse by how he just goes out and plays the game. He’s another guy we talk about, the special time of year when you see guys do things out of the ordinary, and Matt had a big game for us yesterday. We needed somebody to do that.

That big hit has kind of been eluding us, and Matt was able to do it a couple of times. You look at his numbers and it’s impressive what he’s been able to do over the long haul of his career.

Q. If Allen had been the lead runner at any point, whether it was after Yadi thrown out, or the double, would you have pinch‑run for him? Are there any changes to your lineup?

MIKE MATHENY: Yeah, we had Adam Wainwright ready to go. But we were also getting pretty thin on our bench, a situation where we may have needed him to hit. Once we got into the position where it didn’t seem like his spot on the bases would mean that much, we almost wanted the experience more so than speed, just to have the instincts of not to run into a situation, run into an out maybe before that run scores.

So especially the way we saw him go home to second, we felt good about Allen being out there at that particular time. Little did we know that that one percent chance that we would need him happened.

So, yeah, we know that hindsight is pretty easy, but at the time ‑‑ and still, looking what he was able to do, he did a great job of making the most out of it.

Second part of your question?

Q. The lineup.

MIKE MATHENY: Lineup is a little different today: After Molina 5 will be Jay 6, Freese 7 and Descalso 8.

Q. I’m just curious, your pitcher today obviously has a fair amount of experience in the postseason for you over the last couple of years. I’m curious of how much value you think that is and just in general, whether you think the value of postseason experience has changed seeing how many of your pitchers are doing so well without it this year?

MIKE MATHENY: Yeah, I think it can be an edge. I think it can be an advantage. I don’t think it’s the end all to be all. You have to go out and compete against some guys, one, who are trying to prove, if they haven’t had the experience that they can perform at this stage, or two, other guys have had experience here.

We love getting our young guys out there like we have, and they’ve been doing a great job for us. But we don’t deny the fact that once a guy’s been out there before, but in a big pressure situation that we think that he can go out there and do it again. And Lance has been able to perform for us and we know that he can do it again.

Q. Can you talk about Jon Lester, and what did you guys learn from him in Game 1 and what do you expect from Jon in Game 5?

MIKE MATHENY: Well, we’re not going to get too far ahead of ourselves; we’ve got today to get through. But obviously this is a top level pitcher and a guy that is a competitor, as well as has the top‑of‑the‑rotation stuff. So we’ll have plenty of work to do to prepare tomorrow. But I’m not letting myself or our guys really start going there. We’ve got to focus on today.

Q. It’s been little bit of a roller coaster for Carlos Martinez and Trevor Rosenthal. How do you assess them right now? Also are they available again tonight?

MIKE MATHENY: We always kind of hold off until we see how they feel after they go play catch and long toss and do a little flat ground bullpen. They’ve been very resilient.

Carlos has been a shot in the arm for us and has done a real nice job. Yesterday a couple of things just kind of got away from him, you know, base hit and then the hit batsman puts him in a tough spot. To me Trevor did a very good job coming into a tight situation. We get a double play ball that just doesn’t end up happening for us, but that’s what we needed. And then another high hopper that gets through. But I haven’t seen really nearly any lows compared to what he’s been able to do positively for us. So I know he’s still got a lot of confidence and we’ll fire them both back in there.