ST. LOUIS -- Backup catcher Steven Hill was the odd man out on Sunday when the Cardinals needed to open a roster spot for pitcher Joe Kelly. Despite being optioned to Triple-A Memphis, Hill has left a good impression on manager Mike Matheny.
"It's never news you want to here," Matheny said. "He's done a nice job. I thought he came in this spring with a different outlook, a different perspective on the game because he's always just kind of been a very offensive-minded player because he can hit. Everywhere he goes, it's odd how often he finds the barrel of the bat. He was doing a nice job in Memphis. But he came in this spring and worked hard at catching and was very conscientious. It was a different demeanor about going about his work and we all noticed that. He got rewarded with an opportunity to come up. We didn't get to use him much, but it was still a step in the right direction for him career-wise."
Hill appeared in one game for St. Louis during the 2010 season, hitting a home run in his three at-bats, but didn't see any action in 2011.
In six games this season as the Cardinals' third catcher behind Yadier Molina and Tony Cruz, Hill had one hit (a double) in seven at-bats for a .143 average.
Beltran discusses moving around in order
ST.LOUIS -- Carlos Beltran was asked about hitting in the No. 2 spot in the lineup following Saturday night's game and gave an interesting response:
"For me, honestly, this year has been more difficult than any year, because some days I'm hitting two, some days I'm hitting third, some days I'm hitting fourth," he said. "As a player I like to come to the ballpark and know that I'm going to hit in one spot and just be there so I can prepare myself. Sometimes when you have to move so much in the order, it requires a little bit of mental preparation. You have to approach the game a little bit different. But I guess [Manager] Mike [Matheny] feels sometimes he will use me in different order."
Beltran was back in the No. 2 spot for the 19th time on Sunday and had another strong game from the two hole, with a solo home run in the first inning, a single in the sixth and a walk to load the bases in the eighth. He is now hitting .293 (22-for-75) with 10 of his National League-leading 18 home runs and 17 of his 46 RBIs in that spot. In the fourth spot, Beltran is batting .294 with seven homers and 27 RBIs. He's started 31 games in the No. 4 spot this season.
The Cardinals outfielder explained the differences in the spots.
"The difference is, when I'm hitting second, I'm more aggressive," he said. "When I'm hitting fourth, I have to be a little more patient because I'm not going to get the pitches that normally you would get hitting second. Hitting second, the pitcher is trying to be aggressive. When you're hitting fourth, sometimes you hit with guys in scoring position and then the pitchers don't want to give you the ball right down the middle so you have to be patient and work the count."
Matheny was asked before Sunday's game about Beltran hitting second.
"You can't ignore how effective he's been in that two-hole," he said. "Maybe it's just coincidence. Whatever it is it just works for him. He's been productive [at] four also. I'm certain if we throw him in three, he's going to do well. It just seems with this lineup, it's a nice fit for him in that two spot."
Holliday sits again with back injury
ST. LOUIS -- Cardinals manager Mike Matheny said following Saturday's win that left fielder Matt Holliday would likely be out of the lineup for Sunday's series finale against the Indians.
Matheny wanted to give Holliday, who was a late scratch from the lineup on Saturday, two more days to help the outfielder's back issue. With an off day on Monday, Holliday would get three days to rest up for the final six days of the homestand against the White Sox and Royals.
"He woke up and felt a little tight and came in and went through BP and just never did get loose," Matheny said before Sunday's game. "Then, swinging right before the game yesterday, doing his normal routine, he felt it grab a little more and realized it was time."
Holliday had appeared in 58 of the team's first 59 games this season. He is hitting .276 with nine doubles, one triple, 10 home runs, 35 RBIs and 38 runs scored.
Freeman starting to settle in with Cards
ST. LOUIS -- Sam Freeman's first few days in the Major Leagues have been eventful, starting with his debut in Johan Santana's historic no-hitter in New York.
But the 24-year-old left-hander, who began the season in Double-A Springfield, has settled in nicely after allowing two earned runs in his first two appearances.
"I'm not comfortable yet," Freeman said. "It's been an adjustment for sure. Every day you just want to make sure you're ready to go out and do your job. In that sense, getting the job done is the same as it has been."
The rookie allowed one earned run, one hit, walked two and struck out a batter in his 2/3 of an inning in his debut on June 1, then allowed one earned run on one hit in 1/3 of an inning two days later.
His last three appearances, including two in Houston, have gone much better. He's struck out four and allowed one hit over 3 1/3 innings to lower his ERA to 4.15.
"He's made good adjustments," Cardinals manager Mike Matheny said. "I think his first couple outings he was trying to be perfect. ... He thought he had to be better than he's been and be more precise because these are big league hitters, so he has to hit the corners and next thing you know, he's working behind in the count and walking guys. We're trying to be straightforward with [him], 'Hey, you need to throw strikes here', 'You don't have to be so fine', 'Your stuff is going to make up for maybe some pitches that get more plate than you want and you're going to be OK if you're throwing in the strike zone.'
"I've been impressed with how he's gone about it. I think it's been a great experience for him already and we'll just kind of see where it goes from here."
Not bad for a guy who appeared in just six games in Triple-A before getting called up to be the second lefty in the Cardinals' bullpen.
Freeman was 1-5 with two saves and a 2.31 ERA in 21 appearances between Springfield and Triple-A Memphis this season. He struck out 17, walked eight and allowed 17 hits in his 23 1/3 innings of work.
"I thought I was throwing fine," he said. "I made some adjustments that I thought were key and it helped me get better results. Statistically-wise, I don't ever really look at it so I don't really know, but I felt a lot better throwing."
Matheny said on Sunday that infielder Matt Carpenter, who has been on the disabled list since May 23 with a right oblique strain, would be going on a rehab assignment soon. Sunday's game is the 18th that Carpenter has missed.
Carpenter is one of seven Cardinals currently on the disabled list.
Rafael Furcal and David Freese went into Sunday's game a combined 0-for-15 so far on the homestand. Furcal was 0-for-8 and Freese was 0-for-7.
Nate Latsch is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.