Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Matheny Sits Slumping Beltran; Notebook; Manager Remains Confident That Outfielder Will Return to Form at the Plate; CARDINALS

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Matheny Sits Slumping Beltran; Notebook; Manager Remains Confident That Outfielder Will Return to Form at the Plate; CARDINALS

Article excerpt

The Cardinals acknowledged reality Saturday: Carlos Beltran needs to find himself at the plate.

A night after going hitless in five at-bats as the club's No. 3 hitter, Beltran was not in manager Mike Matheny's lineup against the Milwaukee Brewers.

Matheny abstained from answering whether Beltran's absence was for one game or more. He did say that Beltran, the National League's RBI leader entering the All-Star break, is struggling at the plate because of injuries that have compromised his timing.

"I'm confident he's going to find it and is going to be what we saw earlier in the season," Matheny said.

Beltran's struggles have become more than a skid, or what Matheny calls "a lull."

After popping out as a pinch-hitter Saturday night against Milwaukee in the Cardinals' 6-3 loss he is hitting .197 (45 for 228) since his average stood at .313 June 25, and .094 (five for 53) in 15 games since Aug. 23.

An elegant hitter's swing has recently looked forced.

Beltran is playing with a sore left knee as well as a left hand issue. He acknowledged following Friday night's interminable 13- inning loss that the issues persist.

"I don't think right now a lot of players are at 100 percent. That's not an excuse," Beltran said. "You have to come here and get prepared and go out and play the game. The hand is going to be there. The knee is going to be there. It's not one of those things where it's going to be good tomorrow. I'm not really thinking about that."

Matheny noted Beltran's comments and met with him Saturday. Beltran wanted to work out his issues while still in the lineup but Matheny, noting recent trends, embraced a different approach.

"I want them to push through things they can push through. But if they're at the point where they're hurting themselves and not able to do their job we've got to sit down and talk," Matheny said. "That's not where he is. But there are definitely things he wants to do and needs to do on the mental side of that."

Matheny continued: "I've read some of the quotes that no one feels 100 percent right. …

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