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04/20/2013 8:30 PM ET

Matheny respects Molina's will to play every game

PHILADELPHIA -- After one of his rare days off, Yadier Molina was back in the Cardinals lineup Saturday night, buying manager Mike Matheny more time to invent another approach to telling the catcher about his next day of rest.

"I took his glasses and put them on and said, 'You wouldn't hit a guy with glasses,'" said Matheny. "That's how we started the conversation. This was [Thursday]. But we talked to him a week ago about Philly, saying this might be a good time, a tough trip. Let's pick a day.

"There has never been fisticuffs. [But] he would play 161 straight and he would tell you he doesn't need a rest on the last one. That's just how he is."

Matheny said he has been keeping an eye on all his players to best determine when to remove someone from the lineup for a day.

"I think we can watch these guys, what they are doing in their workouts, [and] you can see when a guy is starting to drag a little bit. Our schedule has been very favorable," said Matheny. "We have had off-days and have had a stretch of nine or 10 night games. So he is not in need of rest."

Molina has averaged 138 games the last four seasons. At age 30, he has a new iron body to go with his old iron will.

"He has been on a strict diet," said Matheny. "If he looks trimmer than he has ever been, it's because he is. He is more toned. You can see a physical difference, his goal being that the manager won't think he needs a day off. So I respect that. But we also know that we have to draw the line.

"It is tough for [backup catcher] Tony Cruz to go two weeks without being behind the plate. We're not just trying to make our bench guys feel good. They are all part of what we are doing here and we can't just let him sit and rot."

Robinson gets start in leadoff spot Saturday

PHILADELPHIA -- Cardinals manager Mike Matheny has repeatedly said he will look for opportunities to use his bench players. So with Matt Carpenter -- who led off the last two games -- and usual top-of-the-order hitter Jon Jay both enduring 0-for-12 skids, the time seemed right for a different leadoff look Saturday night.

Shane Robinson, whose only start of the season was wiped out with the two-inning aborted game Tuesday night in Pittsburgh, led off and got the start in center field.

Carpenter joined Jay on the bench, with Daniel Descalso playing second and batting seventh.

"Shane had such a strong spring, we'll try to take advantage of him at the top of the lineup to start something," Matheny said. "You try to get him into some pinch-hitting situations, but you can only get so much out of them.

"He has to work at it. It's part of the job, finding a routine where they get comfortable when they do have those opportunities."

Robinson, who had 11 pinch-hits in 2012, hit .438 in Spring Training with a .719 slugging percentage.

Adams may get second start before friends, family

PHILADELPHIA -- Matt Adams got to start before family and friends from Slippery Rock University in Monday's game in Pittsburgh. But his hometown of Philipsburg, Pa., is also close to Philadelphia, so since manager Mike Matheny announced a goal of two starts a week for the emergent slugger, might Sunday night's conclusion of the four-game series be Adams' next shot?

"There always is a chance," said Matheny with a smile. "We're into keeping families happy, but we have to win, so we take all things into consideration.

"If we can't get him in there twice a week, he shouldn't be here. I've said a number of times, he has nothing left to prove in Triple-A. He can help us off the bench. We want to see him in some spots to try to keep him."

Jay Greenberg is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.