10/14/12 8:33 PM ET
Trying to stay sharp, Schumaker a vocal leader
By Jenifer Langosch and Adam McCalvy / MLB.com
Late in the season, however, Matheny settled on Daniel Descalso to be his everyday guy, leaving Schumaker with the tough task of staying sharp without the benefit of regular playing time.
During the regular season, Schumaker, when healthy, never went more than five days in a row without a start. Now, he has none since the start of the postseason on Oct. 5, a span of 10 days and counting.
"It's tougher in the postseason, because at least during the season, you'll make spot starts and can stay fresh and sharp," said Schumaker, who was hitless in four pinch-hit at-bats this postseason heading into Game 1 of the National League Championship Series on Sunday. "I was talking to [utility player] Matt Carpenter about it, because he was frustrated that his timing doesn't feel good. I feel the same way. We have to figure out more stuff, because right now, with the way our starting pitching has been, there haven't been [many] at-bats to go around."
Part of that answer is extra work in the batting cage, something Schumaker said is becoming a part of his regular routine now. The club is also expecting Jake Westbrook to throw a simulated game later in the week, which would provide the team's five bench players an opportunity to see live pitching.
While Schumaker's on-field impact this postseason has been negligible, his presence in the dugout and the clubhouse continues to be critical. He was among the most vocal during the team's NL Division Series Game 5 comeback against the Nationals, and his experience as a part-time player has enabled Schumaker to be a sounding board for the Cardinals' younger bench players.
"For a young, inexperienced manager to have a veteran on his team that he knows understands and is willing to share that kind of personality and that kind of perspective really puts out a lot of other fires with some guys who might not be happy, as well," Matheny said. "... Skip has been incredible with how he's led inside that clubhouse in that regard."
If it ain't broke: Matheny riding postseason lineup
SAN FRANCISCO -- The Cardinals' rookie manager, Mike Matheny, employed 122 different starting lineups during the 162-game regular season.
In seven postseason games, Matheny has employed only one.
He fielded the same starting eight for Game 1 of the National League Championship Series on Sunday night: Center fielder Jon Jay leading off, followed by right fielder Carlos Beltran, left fielder Matt Holliday, first baseman Allen Craig, catcher Yadier Molina, third baseman David Freese, second baseman Daniel Descalso and shortstop Pete Kozma ahead of the pitcher's spot.
"We look at everything; we get all the information we can. We go through it," Matheny said. "But when you have something going pretty well, I believe we need to keep riding it. Especially if the guys are feeling good. So, right now is not the time to start making those changes."
Matheny did lament the lack of at-bats in the postseason for his bench players, whose workloads are much easier to manage during a regular season filled with long stretches without days off, and day games after night games.
In the postseason, the aim is different. Matheny just starts his best players every game.
"Right now, fortunately, we have some health on our side where we can put the same guys out there every day," he said.
Carpenter has high praise for batterymate Molina
SAN FRANCISCO -- As if this National League Championship Series did not come preloaded with enough praise for the Cardinals' and Giants' sensational starting catchers, St. Louis pitcher Chris Carpenter heaped some more on Yadier Molina on Sunday.
Carpenter and Molina will be batterymates for Game 2 on Monday (7 p.m. CT on FOX). They have already paired 159 times in the regular season, and Molina has been behind the plate for all 16 of Carpenter's career postseason starts.
On Monday, they'll make it 17.
"The respect that I have for Yadi is amazing," Carpenter said. "He's an amazing player, amazing competitor. His preparation level is just as great as anyone. He watches as much video, does as much chart work, everything you can think of he goes into a game with, so I know that he's done as much research and as much work as I have, and I know what [signals] he's going to put down.
"He's so good at recognizing and knowing how to control the ballgame, you don't have to concern yourself with it. And it definitely helps the young kids, there's no question about that. I mean, do I ever shake him off? Absolutely. But not very often."
Jenifer Langosch is a reporter for MLB.com. Read her blog, By Gosh, It's Langosch, and follow her on Twitter @LangoschMLB. Adam McCalvy is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Brew Beat, and follow him on Twitter at @AdamMcCalvy. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.