7/3/2013 10:44 P.M. ET
Kozma has to play through slump
By Jenifer Langosch / MLB.com
ANAHEIM -- Cardinals shortstop Pete Kozma's offensive production has been waning of late, and while manager Mike Matheny said he would like to find some days off to help Kozma reset, he has not had much of an opportunity to do so, due to a variety of factors.
This eight-game swing through three American League parks has the Cardinals using an extra hitter. The Cardinals played one position player short on Sunday, with Matt Adams down with food poisoning. They've since been without Matt Holliday, who has been nursing neck soreness.
As a result, Kozma continues to play while he continues to search.
"I don't know if he's searching for anything mechanical. I think he's searching for his feel," Matheny said. "He had a really great feel in Spring Training and all the way back into last fall. It's a tough game, and they do start to mess with you a little bit if they feel you have a weakness and wait for you to adjust. Part of that is in the equation. But more importantly, it's his confidence. He just needs to have some success out there and trust what he's working on."
Kozma entered Wednesday hitless in his last 12 at-bats and just 2-for-17 on this road trip. He's hit .132 over his last 11 games, striking out 12 times and walking just once during that stretch.
Asked about his recent downturn in production, Kozma cited bad luck as being behind some of his troubles.
"I feel pretty good. I'm just hitting the ball right at them," Kozma said. "I'm just trying to get them to drop."
As Kozma has struggled to find some offensive momentum, so has another one of the organization's shortstop options. Ryan Jackson, the everyday shortstop for Triple-A Memphis, is seen as a potential replacement should the Cardinals opt to make a change. But while Jackson is hitting .305 on the season in Triple-A, he entered the day with just four hits in his last 31 at-bats.
Holliday remains out with pinched nerve in neck
ANAHEIM -- Matt Holliday described himself as improved over the past 24 hours, but a pinched nerve in his neck kept the left fielder out of the starting lineup for a second straight game on Wednesday.
Upon arriving at Angel Stadium, Holliday alerted the Cardinals' medical staff that he was still bothered by some neck stiffness. He did not take on-field batting practice with his teammates but was carrying a bat around as he walked through the bowels of the stadium about an hour before first pitch. Holliday said he was considering taking some swings in the indoor cages to see if he'd be available off the bench.
Though Holliday has dealt with neck/back stiffness before -- most recently late last season after sleeping uncomfortably in a Chicago hotel -- he said this is the first time he has had this type of issue with a pinched nerve.
Holliday's improvement has the Cardinals hopeful that this setback will not require a stint on the disabled list.
"They're going to continue to work on him and treat him," manager Mike Matheny said. "Hopefully tomorrow he's a step closer, if not able to be in there. Right now, as much as he improved from yesterday, it seems like things are moving in the right direction."
With Holliday out of the lineup, Allen Craig made his third straight start in left field, and David Freese remained in the designated-hitter spot.
• The Cardinals have announced a Fourth of July ticket promotion in which fans can purchase $4 tickets for a pair of upcoming series -- July 9-10 against Houston and July 23-25 against the Phillies. The limited number of $4 tickets went on sale Wednesday and will be available through 11:59 p.m. CT on Thursday, or until supplies last. The Cardinals have made 3,000 discounted tickets available for each of the five games. For more information, visit cardinals.com/july.
• Matheny moved Jon Jay back into the second spot in the lineup on Wednesday, thereby allowing him to bump catcher Yadier Molina back down to the five hole. Jay last hit second on June 1.
"We're just trying to find what works," Matheny said. "I have been anxious to get Yadi back to where he's been so effective, too. He likes being wherever he's going to be in the lineup, but when it comes down to it, I'm one of the guys who doesn't like to mess with one of the things that's working. Yadi has been effective in the five-spot, and you just don't take things like that for granted. It's a little different look that has worked for us in the past, so we'll give it a ride."
• The Cardinals and Angels will wear special stars and stripes caps for Thursday's Independence Day game. The Cardinals' cap features a gray front with the logo filled in with red, white and blue.
• Prior to the Cardinals' game on July 4, FOX Sports Midwest will air a feature to pay tribute to the victims of the Moore, Okla., tornado victims. The show will highlight the efforts of a St. Louis-area softball team that collected and donated softball and baseball equipment to the devastated area. The Cardinals held fundraisers last month to help raise money for relief agencies assisting with the rebuilding efforts in Moore.
Jenifer Langosch is a reporter for MLB.com. Read her blog, By Gosh, It's Langosch, and follow her on Twitter @LangoschMLB. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.