04/10/12 7:38 PM ET
Hot-hitting Furcal takes day off vs. Reds
By Jeff Wallner / Special to MLB.com
"Just giving him a day," said Cardinals manager Mike Matheny. "I'm real happy with how he's doing everything. It's a day game after night game. A lot of times you get the rest on the back side. I'll give it to him on the front."
With Furcal on the bench, center fielder Jon Jay was inserted into the leadoff spot, Daniel Descalso was playing second, and Tyler Greene was making his first start this season at shortstop, his natural position.
"He didn't have a lot of reps [at short] in Spring Training," Matheny said of Greene. "But it's a position he's comfortable with."
Matheny was asked if he considered putting Greene at second and Descalso at short. The Cardinals skipper said he considers a multitude of combinations when making out the lineup each day.
"You have to realize I write quite a few of them," Matheny said. "Just getting creative, then matching them up with the numbers and the matchups. It's a natural position for Tyler, just like second is a natural position for Daniel. When you set guys up for success, just makes sense."
Matheny settling in nicely to skipper's role
CINCINNATI -- Mike Matheny's tenure as St. Louis Cardinals manager is just five regular-season games old entering Tuesday's contest against the Reds. But he said it hasn't been much different than being a player in terms of preparation and mental fatigue.
"I'm exhausted at the end of the game, and I love that," Matheny said. "And I haven't done anything except sat there and barked at an umpire every once in a while. Just that focus. It's very similar to when I played. I like that demand, having to be on point all the time."
Matheny said he arrives at the ballpark around noon each day. He works out almost daily to maintain his physical condition throughout the season, and gets some scouting work done in the meantime. Call it multi-tasking, something a catcher who logged 13 Major League seasons might know something about.
"I liked walking off the field [as a player] and being completely spent," Matheny said. "That's how I knew I was where I was supposed to be, and I was doing what I needed to do."
Matheny has been credited for the Cardinals' loose clubhouse, but he says that has more to do with winning than any particular culture he's tried to implement. While the players appear to be enjoying themselves during Matheny's rookie year as skipper, it hasn't been at the expense of their day-to-day responsibilities as professional ballplayers.
"You're always teetering on ... that you don't want it to be a country club," Matheny said. "But there's nothing wrong with liking where you show up to go to work every day. The atmosphere means a lot to how guys do their job."
With the Cardinals' 4-1 start and consistent starting pitching, it might appear at times that Matheny is managing from a rocking chair. Couldn't be further from the truth, says the man who assumed Tony La Russa's throne as St. Louis skipper. And the season has barely begun.
"Every day it's something new that I have to write on my yellow pad," Matheny said. "I'm constantly trying to keep notes. We're going to hit some storms that we can't even anticipate. How that's going to go, I can't even begin to tell you."
Carpenter to undergo further evaluation
CINCINNATI -- Chris Carpenter, who began the season on the 15-day disabled list with nerve irritation which caused weakness in his right shoulder, will undergo further evaluation this week, according to Cardinals general manager John Mozeliak.
"He'll go through a battery of tests this week to quantify where he is," said Mozeliak. "Based on that information, we'll determine the next step. He's getting stronger. We're optimistic that we're going in the right direction."
Carpenter did not pitch in Spring Training. He went 11-9 last season with a 3.45 ERA in a NL-leading 34 starts. Carpenter was 2-0 with a 2.84 ERA in three World Series starts.
"He's an extremely hard worker and focused on getting back as soon as possible," Mozeliak said. "Anyone that has been around Chris Carpenter understands how competitive he is, and how special of a guy he is. Hopefully he's back sooner rather than later."
Berkman leaves early with tight calf
CINCINNATI -- Cardinals first baseman Lance Berkman left Tuesday night's game in the eighth inning with a strained left calf. Berkman said the injury occurred when he was legging out a triple in the sixth inning. "That's why I try not to hit too many triples," Berkman joked after the game.
Berkman singled to lead off the eighth inning, but asked to be removed from the game when he felt tightness in his calf. "When I hit the single, I could tell that if I had to score from first on a double, I wasn't going to be the guy to do that the way I felt," Berkman said. "We'll see how I feel in the morning."
Rafael Furcal pinch-ran for Berkman in the eighth.
It was a chilly night at Great American Ball Park, and Berkman said the cool conditions probably contributed to the injury. Berkman, who also has been nursing a sore hand, went 2-for-3 on Tuesday with a walk, triple and single in the Cardinals' 3-1 victory over the Reds.
"He was a little tight in his calf," said Cardinals manager Mike Matheny. "On these kind of nights you do what you can to keep guys warm."
• The Cardinals' hot start is reflected in their statistics. Through five games, St. Louis was leading the National League with a .317 batting average and a Major League-leading 31 runs scored, 58 hits and nine home runs. The Cardinals had 13 or more hits in three of the first five games. The starting pitching has been equally impressive. St. Louis' starting staff ranks fourth in the NL with a 1.93 ERA and first with a .147 batting average against.
Jeff Wallner is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.