Schumaker Bats Leadoff; Notebook; Furcal Drops Down to No. 8 Spot as Matheny Responds to Offensive Struggles

By Goold, Derrick | St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO), July 21, 2012 | Go to article overview

Schumaker Bats Leadoff; Notebook; Furcal Drops Down to No. 8 Spot as Matheny Responds to Offensive Struggles


Goold, Derrick, St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)


Calling it "a good opportunity to mix it up a little bit," Cardinals manager Mike Matheny responded to the team's offensive struggles and Friday's opponent, Cubs ace Ryan Dempster, with one significant change to the lineup.

For the first time in a game he started, Rafael Furcal was not the leadoff hitter.

"Skip (Schumaker) has been swinging the bat well and we need to get something going at the top of the lineup," Matheny said after deciding to push Schumaker to No. 1 and sliding the switch-hitter Furcal back to No. 8. "We're in a situation where we haven't had the offensive production we should have. It's a matter of finding what's going to work for us. One of the things that is working is the at- bats Skip is taking. We're going to continue to find places for him."

The Cardinals, who lead the National League in runs, did not score more than three runs in any of six games on their 1-5 road trip. While not alone in their struggles, Furcal has seen his average drop 30 points in 30 games with a 25-for-118 (.212) stretch, and center fielder Jon Jay has hit .211 (15 for 71) in 22 games since returning from the disabled list. Jay said Friday that there is "no physical element" to his slump, just timing issues. Furcal had made all 85 of his starts at leadoff before Friday. Carlos Beltran started in center field over Jay for the second time in three games to fit him, Lance Berkman and Allen Craig into the same lineup.

Matheny said he would continue to be "creative" while trying to allow Furcal and Jay to find their swings. "We need them back in there," he said.

Schumaker positioned himself for the leadoff spot and added playing time by bringing a team-high .316 average into this series. His 22 hits in 51 at-bats against Dempster were also a factor.

GARCIA ADVANCES

Lefty Jaime Garcia (shoulder) will throw a bullpen session this afternoon, mixing in his curveball for the first time and striding toward what could be a relocation of his rehab to Jupiter, Fla. The session will be Garcia's third this week and perhaps the final step before he faces hitters in a controlled situation. …

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