Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Fowler Moves Again, This Time to Cleanup

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Fowler Moves Again, This Time to Cleanup

Article excerpt

As manager Mike Matheny aims to maintain this suddenly kinetic offense and welcome back the man the Cardinals spent millions on to spark it, the idea of having Dexter Fowler atop the lineup has been replaced by just having Fowler at some spot in the lineup.

"All of them. Any of them," Matheny said. "He's got to be a guy he's driving the ball, right? He's been getting on base. You can put him just about anywhere. Love to continue to put guys in a spot where they're part of a 10-run offense."

For Fowler on Wednesday, that was cleanup.

His results looked decidedly leadoff.

Fowler walked in his first two plate appearances Wednesday and set up the Cardinals' tying run early in the game with a stolen base. In his first 12 plate appearances since returning from the disabled list, Fowler reached base eight times, and he scored three runs. It's no coincidence that the Cardinals brought a streak of three consecutive 10-run games into their return to Busch Stadium. Yet, Fowler has done all this from a new vantage point.

His start at cleanup Wednesday was only his second at No. 4 since April 2014, and the previous two games he batted sixth. He had never started a game at No. 6 before Monday. It's an unexpected relocation for a switch-hitting veteran whom the Cardinals coveted expressly because he would give them a leadoff hitter.

"I'm trying to hit all nine," Fowler deadpanned. He added later, "I'm most comfortable hitting leadoff because that's what I've been doing. Wherever he puts me, I'm going to take good at-bats."

Now, that is, that he's able to take healthy at-bats.

At various times this season, Fowler has had his swing undermined by injuries. He's played most of the season with bone spurs, causing discomfort in the field and affecting his base at the plate. Before he went on the 10-day DL recently with an arm strain, he was swinging one handed because of the pain, he said. He also had a lat injury that reduced the ferocity of his swing. At the same time, the Cardinals returned Matt Carpenter to the leadoff spot and saw him flourish with Tommy Pham at No. 2 and Paul DeJong at No. 3.

Matheny has wanted to create some consistency for a few players i. …

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