PostCards: Mike Matheny talks before 2014 NLCS Game 3


St. Louis Cardinals manager Mike Matheny spoke to the media prior to the start of Game 3 of the 2014 NLCS against the San Francisco Giants.

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Q. Was that an easy call with A. J, catching over Cruz?

MIKE MATHENY: Never an easy call with anybody in our lineup, but A.J. and John Lackey obviously have had a lot of work together, and A.J., though it’s been a while, has some history with Hudson. So all that goes into play.

But we trust Tony Cruz as well as we trust A.J., and we are just going to kind of go day‑to‑day with that decision.

Q. Is there any update on Yadi since we spoke yesterday, and is he available today as a defensive replacement?

MIKE MATHENY: Yeah, just like we talked yesterday and reaffirmed today with our medical team, they are confident that he’s not going to hurt himself worse with this. There’s a significant injury there, but it’s just going to be dealing with the pain and figuring out how he can and if he can do the different movements we need him to make.

He showed yesterday, and we’ll wait until we watch him go out and throw again today, see if anything’s changed. If he can’t do it, he won’t be used. But if he can, that’s a valuable weapon we have to possibly bring in for defensive purposes late.

Q. You stuck A.J. into the six‑spot. Was there any consideration to flipping around the guys at the bottom of the lineup and moving things around down there.

MIKE MATHENY: I think he’s seven, actually. It goes Wong and A.J. and then Grichuk. We draw it up a hundred different ways as much as we can and try to put things into the eyes of the other team and what that might mean for them. We feel A.J. is going to put together a good at‑bat as well as the other guys will.

Q. Are you at the point where you have a planned batting practice for Yadier or will you wait a few days.

MIKE MATHENY: He’s not ready for that. I’m sure he’ll be pushing for it as soon as he can, and once again, we have a very talented medical staff that’s able to keep on top of what’s going on here. We know that he’s going to push when he can push. And as long as we’re not risking him hurting himself further, we’re going to allow him to keep moving forward.

Q. When you look at the roster that you have and Yadi’s role in it, wanting to keep Tony, I would imagine, as an emergency guy and wanting to keep Wacha for extra innings, how does that alter how you can use the other pieces and how aggressive you can be with pinch‑hitters or looking to the ninth, having a lefty or reliever available if a situation develops with Rosenthal?

MIKE MATHENY: There’s no question, having a player with limited ability, as far as not being able to play both offense and defense, how that plays in. We are not completely ruling out Yadi can step up there and take a bat. It’s what he does when he’s up there. Depends where we are in the game and how the situation looks and weighing out the pros and cons at the time.

Right now he’s not going to be taking any batting practice, but he is going to be continuing to work on the defensive side until his body allows him to start entertaining the idea of swinging the bat.

But yeah, there’s some challenge now into how we are using our pen and how we are going to use our bench.

Q. A.J. has not caught much in the past six or seven weeks. How difficult is it to get back into that groove as a catcher?

MIKE MATHENY: I would just use the experience we have with him. He was off for two weeks. He was in Cooperstown when we called him to bring him in, and the first day we brought him in, he looked great. He was swinging the bat well, probably as good as we saw him, and also looked good behind the plate.

I think 16 years experience has some carry‑over effect. But he caught a bullpen yesterday and we went out and threw him early a time or two, too, and tried to keep him sharp, just not knowing what’s going to happen.

We did have him in the roster just in playing mode and not just pulling him off the bench as an extra player. He’s been into the games and he’s ready to go.

Q. You mentioned before Game 3 that defense played a role in your decision in right field. Was that the case again today? And if so, where does Bourjos fit into getting a start in an outfield that’s pretty big?

MIKE MATHENY: We’ll start with the right‑field part of the question. Randal has done a nice job for us. In Game2, he certainly didn’t do anything to hurt himself from being back out there. Made a great play in right field. Had a big RBI single with the bases loaded and did what we needed him to do.

Oscar does make things more interesting when he comes in, one at‑bat, and does what he did. But I believe he’s a valuable weapon for us off the berth and if we do need to make some adjustments offensively, he’s an option.

Peter Bourjos brings a lot to the table, but Jon Jay has done a great job and can’t ask a whole lot more for what he’s done.

This is the kind of outfield where you would love to have as much coverage as you can and I believe Jon Jay and Randal are going to do a great job trying to play a very difficult right‑center field in this ballpark.