7/12/2013 6:12 P.M. ET
Miller trying to stay sharp during long layoff
By Brian Hedger / Special to MLB.com
CHICAGO -- Cardinals starter Shelby Miller won't get another start until after the All-Star break and will be the fourth in line to go, meaning he'll likely get the nod next on July 23 at home against the Philies.
That would be a span of 13 days since his most recent start on July 10 at Busch Stadium against the Astros. The 22-year old Miller has taken losses in three of his past six outings and is trying to see the extended time off in a positive light. He took his regular bullpen prior to Friday afternoon's game against the Cubs at Wrigley Field and said he will also throw side sessions before and after the break.
"The toughest thing is just keeping everything kind of sound, the mechanics," Miller said. "Not pitching for about two weeks is not the easiest thing to do, but I've got a lot of time to work on things and work my way back into the bottom of the zone and work on my offspeed pitches, stuff like that. I think the time is going to benefit me."
Cardinals manager Mike Matheny is also hopeful that will be the case. Matheny said Miller's arm strength is fine, but he might be going through a normal rough patch that most pitchers hit during the course of a season.
"It's just a great opportunity," Matheny said. "Rest will be good, but we can moderate it. Work is going to be real important for him right now. He could be a little tired, but I don't think that's it. I think he got to a period during the season that almost everybody gets to and you're just not as sharp. He's still competing and keeping us in games."
Cardinals hope Holliday can avoid DL stint
CHICAGO -- The Cardinals are hopeful that star outfielder Matt Holliday will be able to avoid a trip to the 15-day disabled list because of the right hamstring injury that caused him to leave a game at Wrigley Field on Thursday night.
Holliday grabbed for his right hamstring while running out a ground ball in the fourth inning and headed straight to the training room. Treatments were started immediately and he went through another round of therapy on Friday before the second of a four-game series against the Cubs. Holliday appeared fine while walking around and hasn't gotten an MRI done.
"We'll go day to day, but he's definitely better today than he was [Thursday night], which is a good sign," Cardinals manager Mike Matheny said. "They gave him just a clinical evaluation with our trainers and they were all very pleased with the progression.
"Obviously there's something going on there. I mean, he's tough as nails. You see him come up like that before he gets to the base, you know something's going on -- but I think he was able to shut it down in time, before it got to the point where you'd have to go get a picture [MRI]."
Allen Craig hit fourth and replaced Holliday in left field on Friday, while Carlos Beltran hit in the third spot of the order -- where Holliday usually hits.
Jon Jay took Beltran's normal spot in the second slot and Matt Adams -- who replaced Holliday on Thursday night -- got the start at first base. As for Holliday, the Cardinals might catch a break in terms of timing. The All-Star break is looming at the start of next week and the extra rest provided for him might be enough to keep away from a DL stint.
Matheny also didn't rule out a return in this series, but that would come as a surprise.
"It could be good for all of our guys who have nicks and bruises, let alone something that is standing out like this," Matheny said. "The break can always be a good time to get yourself mended up."
Matheny upset over ump showing up Cards
CHICAGO -- There wasn't anything fake about Mike Matheny's confrontation with home-plate umpire Dan Bellino on Thursday night at Wrigley Field following a 3-0 loss to the Cubs.
The Cardinals' manager was ejected for vehemently confronting Bellino about a gesture Matheny considered to be a case of showing up one of his players. After Matt Adams was called out on strikes to start the ninth, he said something to Bellilno as he walked away. Bellino removed his mask and waved at Adams to return to the bench, which drew Matheny's ire.
Matheny said he's already spoken with Major League Baseball officials to explain his side of the altercation.
"Maybe that's just me, but I know a lot of guys who feel the same way," he said. "If a pitcher [of mine] shows up a position player, he's going to be in my office and it's going to be a heated conversation, because I just don't think there's any room for it.
"We've all got to be pulling in the same direction, and if I feel like one of our guys is disrespecting or showing up the opposition, I believe that's the ultimate sin of the game. That's just how I was taught the game and I believe that's what happened last night -- and it just didn't need to happen."
Matheny hoped to speak with Bellino prior to Friday's game to clear the air and move past the incident.
"I had Minor League managers tell me [about it] early on," said Matheny, a former Major League catcher. "I had a pitcher show somebody up and they said, 'That's your job to take care of … you go find him.' And I found a guy on a toilet one time. That's the honest-to-goodness truth. They wanted me to go find him right then, so I found him."
The point was also driven home to Matheny at Spring Training one year when he was still a prospect.
"I had a manager tell me that I needed to go find a veteran pitcher," he said. "He told me I needed to go confront him and tell him that if he ever did that again it wasn't going to be good. I was up there shaking when I was telling it to him, but I told him. I think, for one, the manager wanted to see if I'd do it, and two, I think he wanted to teach me this lesson. You just don't let stuff like that happen."
Coming to the defense of the player who gets shown up, on the other hand, can have a strong effect on the team as a whole.
"If you know the other guys got your back that creates an atmosphere where you start talking about chemistry -- I think that's the ultimate," Matheny said. "When everybody's got each other's back, you mix in a little talent … that's pretty powerful stuff."
Yadier's knee better, should be OK for ASG
CHICAGO -- Cardinals catcher Yadier Molina said the troublesome right knee that kept him out of a game a week ago is improving steadily and he'll probably make the start for the National League in Tuesday's All-Star Game (6:30 p.m. CT on FOX).
Molina, who was voted by fans to be the NL's starting catcher, left a game on July 6 at Busch Stadium to get an MRI on his sore right knee -- which was surgically repaired in September 2007. The results showed nothing structurally wrong, but the Cardinals will continue to monitor their star backstop on a daily basis. After starting on Friday afternoon at Wrigley Field against the Cubs, Molina has played in 85 of the Cardinals' 90 games and was second in the Majors in innings caught (698) coming into the game.
"Every day it's getting better," Molina said. "Being a catcher is a tough position. You won't be 100 percent every day, and right now my knee is getting better every day that goes by."
Asked about the knee possibly affecting his thinking in regard to the All-Star Game, Molina hinted that he'd probably make the start.
"I care more about my team here, about the season and [wins and losses]," he said. "I'm in the [NL] lineup right now, so I'm good to go."
If anybody understands the rigors of catching on the knees, it's Cardinals manager Mike Matheny -- who caught 10,052 2/3 innings in his 13-year Major League career.
"Any catcher that catches a lot of innings through a career, you're going to have things pop up," Matheny said. "[Molina's] already had that [knee] repaired once and that's part of what's going on here, but the new pictures and everything they took, everything's pointing in the direction of … we've just got to listen to his body. When it feels good, we're going to roll with it, and when it doesn't, we're going to have to take some time."
Brian Hedger is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.