KC@STL: Matheny discusses quiet night for Cards' bats

ST. LOUIS -- The Cardinals' offense finds itself in the midst of a streak it is desperately trying to escape.

There has been frustration, followed by meetings and batting practice in hopes of turning around a recent stretch of stagnant offense that hadn't scored in 20 straight innings entering Tuesday.

"You see a lot of guys hitting balls hard and right at people," second baseman Kolten Wong said. "It's just going to take a little time for us to get things going. Once it happens, baseball is that thing where if one guy hits, everybody hits. We have the talent in this clubhouse to do some special things."

The Cardinals were shut out for the second consecutive game Monday and have scored only two runs on 11 hits over the past three games. Aside from a four-run eighth inning in a 9-4 loss Friday, the Cardinals would be coming off three shutouts in four games.

During that four-game span, the Cardinals have been outscored 23-6.

"I'd still take our offense against anybody when they're locked in," manager Mike Matheny said. "We've just got to find ways to grind through and work through a time when they're not coming as easily as we'd like."

The lackluster offense has pushed the Cardinals five games back in the National League Central behind first-place Milwaukee. St. Louis was 1 1/2 games back eight days ago.

The Cardinals also have dropped to 30-28 in losing six of eight games on the homestand, the closest they have been to .500 since mid-May.

"It's funny because if you bring in somebody from the outside and have them sit through this, you'd think we're in absolute last place in all of baseball," Matheny said. "It baffles me, but also I get it because with great expectation, that's where we are.

"I think it's one of those things that will make us better in the end, because we're still going to get going. Right now it's just not clicking, but it's going to."

DH duties will be based on matchups

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ST. LOUIS -- There is no specific plan for how the Cardinals will use the designated hitter when they begin play in American League ballparks Wednesday.

The Cardinals will play their next seven games on the road against AL teams, providing an opportunity for an extra position player to get at-bats.

"I think it's more about trying to get those guys some opportunities to get off their feet on the field and opportunities to keep their bats in the lineup," manager Mike Matheny said. "That's something to definitely take advantage of, and also to see some of these younger guys on a pretty consistent basis."

The latter will be key for the Cardinals, with a logjam in the outfield limiting at-bats for younger players. Randal Grichuk, a 22-year-old outfielder recalled from Triple-A on Friday, has appeared in all four games, twice was a pinch-hitter.

The Cardinals are likely to use the DH to work Grichuk and others into the lineup. Last season Matt Holliday was used as a DH four times, but Matheny didn't have one person in mind to use there in the days ahead.

"I don't think we rule out anybody," Matheny said. "I think more importantly what it is, is two months into this, we have guys that are grinding, that have been out there pretty consistently."

Catcher Yadier Molina hasn't been used as a DH since the 2008 season, but even he could be a candidate.

"I would use anybody if it's the right fit," Matheny said.

Draft board shaping up with four Day 1 picks

John Mozeliak joins MLB Now

ST. LOUIS -- With the 2014 First-Year Player Draft less than 48 hours away, the Cardinals have settled into their war room, spending up to 10 hours a day determining who might become the future of the organization.

"Right now what we're doing is we're trying to set up our big board," Cardinals scouting director Dan Kantrovitz said Tuesday. "It's comprised of roughly the top 70 players on our board."

Kantrovitz said the board will get the club through the first day of the Draft, comprised of 74 total picks, including two first-round and two second-round selections for the Cardinals. That board could take the team through subsequent rounds during Day 2 of the three-day Draft as well.

Before the Draft begins Thursday evening, Cardinals scouts are providing general manager John Mozeliak with reports and opinions on various players as the team attempts to rank them.

The Cardinals won't draft based on need, such as avoiding outfielders because of their current overload of young talent.

"Some of these players might not reach the big leagues for four or five years," Kantrovitz said. "There's no telling what can happen at the big league level. There's trades that can be made, injuries that can happen. We're going to try to take the best player available."

The Cardinals' first pick will come at No. 27. The team, Kantrovitz said, has ruled out about 10 players who it feels are highly unlikely to drop that far.

Beyond that, there is a feeling this year's Draft is different than others.

"Once you get past the first 10 picks or so, I feel like it's kind of in the eye of the beholder," Kantrovitz said. "Every team is going to have a very different Draft board after the top 10. That's good for us, because having four picks a little bit later means we might get a player that's a little bit higher-caliber player where we're picking than we would normally expect."

The 2014 Draft will take place Thursday-Saturday, beginning with the Draft preview show on MLB.com and MLB Network on Thursday at 5 p.m. CT. Live Draft coverage from MLB Network's Studio 42 begins at 6 p.m., with the top 74 picks being streamed on MLB.com and broadcast on MLB Network. MLB.com's exclusive coverage of the second and third days will begin with a live Draft show at 11:30 a.m. CT on Friday.

Worth noting

Matt Holliday collected two of the Cardinals' three hits in Monday's 6-0 loss to Kansas City. Holliday had hit .467 (7-for-15) in Interleague Play this season entering Tuesday.

Yadier Molina has scuffled at the plate during the homestand, hitting .095 (2-for-21) with both hits coming May 28. Manager Mike Matheny isn't worried about his All-Star catcher, who is hitting .305 overall.

"The guy has hit the ball hard. He's frustrated, because he's a perfectionist and he's a pro," Matheny said. "He'll come around, because his approach is right and he stings the ball like he did yesterday the opposite way. His swing looks right, he's just not getting a lot of luck."

• It was 10 years ago Tuesday that Molina made his debut in the Majors when Matheny hit the disabled list. Molina went 2-for-4 in his debut against Pittsburgh.