Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Cardinals Notes: Matheny Gives Garcia Reassurance

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Cardinals Notes: Matheny Gives Garcia Reassurance

Article excerpt

CHICAGO * After a brief meeting with manager Mike Matheny about how the team was going to stick with him at shortstop despite a lengthy hitless streak, Greg Garcia had something he wanted to say, too.

"I'm going to reward you," Garcia said. "This is going to change."

Garcia stung two line drives Saturday but was not rewarded for either of them, going zero for five and extending his hitless streak to zero for 30. He remained leadoff for the Cardinals on Sunday night at Wrigley Field and lined out to first baseman Anthony Rizzo in his first at-bat. Garcia wrung his batting gloves on his walk back to the dugout. Garcia snapped the streak with a hotshot single off the second baseman in the third inning.

Matheny agreed that it's unorthodox to stay with a hitter in the midst of a skid at leadoff, but he said two other factors kept putting Garcia there.

With Matt Holliday on the disabled list, the Cardinals want Matt Carpenter batting No. 3, so a different leadoff hitter is needed. And, perhaps more revealing, with Jhonny Peralta recently back from the disabled list, the preference is to play him at third and Garcia at shortstop, where he's been superior, the manager said.

"There's a high premium put on that shortstop position," Matheny said. "Greg has done a real nice job for us. I think right now he's our best option there defensively. Jhonny has obviously been our longtime shortstop, but (he's) still getting to the point of all those movements. He spent so much time down, it's hard getting those game-speed instincts back to where he needed them to be, especially at that position. I think Greg is doing a good job of it. Jhonny looks good at third."

Peralta moved briefly back to shortstop when he returned from the DL because Aledmys Diaz went on the disabled list with a fractured thumb. Diaz is still more than a week away from a re-evaluation to check the healing of his thumb, and the initial plan was to have Peralta return to his natural position. Garcia's slick play at short nudged Peralta back to third and has meant keeping his bat in the lineup. Peralta had two standout defensive plays early Sunday, including smothering a grounder and tossing from his knees to get Addison Russell at first.

Matheny stressed in his talk with Garcia that even during his struggles at the plate, Garcia was still contributing in the field. And it the struggles have been there. In addition to the zero for 30, Garcia was stuck in a four-for-51 (.078) stretch with as many walks (four) as hits.

His average shrank from .320 to .236.

"It's as long as it looks on paper," Garcia said before Sunday's game. "It feels every bit as long. For whatever reasons it's not happening right now. I'm trying to stay positive."

Asked if Peralta should call third base home now, Matheny said there's still a chance the All-Star returns to shortstop during Diaz's absence. …

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