Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Cards' Outfielders Will Have to Be Flexible

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Cards' Outfielders Will Have to Be Flexible

Article excerpt

When the Cardinals left spring training, right fielder Jason Heyward, the centerpiece of the club's biggest trade this past winter, had a fixed point in the lineup, a fixed point in the field, and the Cardinals believed certainties would allow the newcomer to flourish.

Two months into the season, there have been many changes.

His spot in the order has been varied, and his starts in the field could be shared.

"You know it's not going to be one set thing and you have to understand things are going to change," Heyward said. "From my experience it's a luxury to be able to have (other options). You want to be able to go out there every day, you want to be an everyday player, but I understand what it looks like to run the same group out there every day. You kind of limp the finish line. I feel like with this group it's awesome to have that depth. In the long run, it's going to be good for us and it's going to be good for me."

The return of Jon Jay from the disabled list has added a fifth outfielder to the mix, and manager Mike Matheny suggested this past week that he'll let the "hot hand" determine some of his lineup. Left fielder Matt Holliday is a constant, leaving four outfielders to fit into two spots. On Saturday, before Holliday left the game with a persistent illness, rookie Randal Grichuk got the start ahead of Heyward in right field.

On Monday, Heyward and his .251 average and 25 runs scored started in right, but Matheny said it is not a case of each outfielder playing for his next playing time.

"I'll take a different angle and say Randal Grichuk has forced our hand and that's what a young player is supposed to do to get opportunity you shine," Matheny said Monday. "You make it hard to not have him in there. And it's hard not having Randal in there in a game like (Monday's). We understand that we want to continue to have each guy improve and get opportunities. The young guys who deserve it are going to continue to keep pushing us in a direction that might be different than we originally planned."

With Jay and Grichuk both having stints on the disabled list this season, Heyward said it felt like the outfielders, as a group, "were limping-in into the middle of May. …

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