9/19/2013 2:05 A.M. ET
Cardinals keep it loose with camel costumes
By Ian McCue / MLB.com
DENVER -- Every club often needs something to lighten the mood of a hyper-competitive division race.
So a group of Cardinals players stepped into camel suits and cruised around the field before Wednesday's game against the Rockies. It was a play on the Geico "Hump Day" commercial that's gone viral and became a hit in the Cardinals' clubhouse.
Reliever John Axford bought the costumes and led the charge, riding a bicycle to Coors Field in costume, and starter Joe Kelly joined in on the festivities. On Wednesdays, players also stop by the door of manager Mike Matheny's office and tease him with a "Mike, Mike, Mike, Mike" line from the commercial.
"They have fun," Matheny said. "If you can't come out here and have some fun, you can't figure out a way to smile once in a while, it's going to be a long season. It caught me off guard and I wasn't really expecting it. The first one rode in on a bicycle, so I wasn't expecting a camel on a bicycle. But it did cause some smiles in the clubhouse."
Kelly agreed with his manager and knows just how relieving it can be to step away from the grind of a 162-game season, even if it's just for a few brief moments.
"It's stuff we do every day, just sometimes the camera doesn't see it," Kelly said. "We're always loose, every single day, and that what's makes us a good team. We all bond together, laugh together, so it's just good to always have someone like that."
Adams forced to exit with right elbow soreness
DENVER -- In Wednesday night's 4-3 victory over the Rockies, Cardinals first baseman Matt Adams aggravated a right elbow injury he's been dealing with for more than a year.
Adams said he injured the elbow during his final at-bat in the sixth inning, and he was replaced at first base by rookie Brock Peterson in the bottom of the seventh.
"We've been doing treatment on it and it's been feeling good," Adams said, his lips pursed in vivid frustration. "Just that one swing tonight, that changeup off the end of the bat, is the one that did it."
He had season-ending surgery in August 2012 when he was still with Triple-A Memphis to clean up bone spurs in the elbow, officially leaving Wednesday's game with right elbow soreness. Manager Mike Matheny said Adams dealt with issues in the elbow earlier this year, but the first baseman said the pain was worse this time and made him unable to swing.
"This wasn't a surprise because he's had periods of it here for a while," Matheny said. "So we knew it wasn't something completely out of nowhere. We'll probably just have to get a better look and see exactly what we're dealing with."
Adams and Matheny both declined to predict whether he could play Thursday, but being as he could not swing a bat it seems unlikely he will return for the series finale at Colorado. Adams said the current plan is to keep getting treatment and see how it heals.
In his first full season in the Majors, the burly first baseman is hitting .271 with 14 homers and 45 RBIs through 98 games.
Kelly doesn't think calf sprain will keep him sidelined
DENVER -- Cardinals right-hander Joe Kelly said tests on his sore right calf Wednesday revealed nothing more than a slight sprain with no structural damage.
Kelly is confident he'll be ready for his next start, scheduled for Sunday in Milwaukee, but understands that he might be skipped to prevent further damage.
"Personally, I think I could go," Kelly said. "Just something to test out, something you don't want to go out there and not be 100 percent and mess it up worse. There's two starts left, and if I ended up missing one, I'd have one before the playoffs. It's just something you don't want to be going into the playoffs with."
He tossed five scoreless innings in an 11-4 win over the Rockies on Tuesday and was pulled due to tightness in his right calf, just behind the knee. Kelly followed his usual routine Wednesday with a leg workout and plans to jog on Thursday.
Manager Mike Matheny said the decision on Kelly's next start leans heavily on how he progresses.
"We saw it as one of those days yesterday that it just wasn't feeling as good," Matheny said. "Got the medical staff involved and we'll go ahead and see what they see, but for the most part we trust what he feels. It was good to get him out yesterday a little sooner than what we normally would."
Since becoming a full member of the starting rotation July 6, Kelly has been one of St. Louis' most reliable arms. His 1.94 ERA since June 1 -- he spent the first portion of the year as a reliever -- is second-best in the Majors over that span behind Marlins phenom Jose Fernandez.
Beltran given night off in Denver amid slump
DENVER -- It's the time of the season when a day off can be somewhat crushing, because it takes away any chance to help your club make that push for October.
But Cardinals manager Mike Matheny knows days off in September can pay major dividends in the postseason, so he gave right fielder Carlos Beltran a day of rest Wednesday.
"I think obviously we miss Allen Craig but this season has been a little different for a lot of these guys," Matheny said. "They've been able to get more rest and I think it's helped over the long haul."
Beltran, an All-Star for the eighth time this year, is enduring a recent slump. He has just two hits in his past 24 at-bats and is 0-for-9 in the first two games of this series with the Rockies. Beltran is hitting .171 with six RBIs over his past 12 games and hasn't hit a home run since Aug. 24.
But based on previous experience, Matheny expects one of the cornerstones of his lineup to return to his usual form soon.
"In the past I've been able to give him a day here or there and all of a sudden he's right [back to where he was]," Matheny said. "He's not far off, because he's made some real hard outs.
"His swing's real close, but I think sometimes just taking a little breath [helps]. Especially right now, guys are really grinding, pushing. Every game is so much fun and being so into it, you're little more spent and then you mix in Colorado, you mix in Coors Field. There's a lot of stuff that goes into it right now."
Asked if Beltran might be pressing since he started spending more time in the cleanup spot, Matheny denied any such notion. Though Beltran's seen significant time at the Nos. 2, 3 and 4 spots in the lineup, Matheny doesn't see any connection between his recent struggles and a new lineup slot.
"I think you could maybe say that about some less experienced players," Matheny said. "But you guys have seen Carlos. He's one of the most laid-back people you'll ever come across in life. I mean he's intense, but stuff like that, he doesn't overthink it."
• With two more doubles, Cardinals second baseman Matt Carpenter will join the most storied name in franchise history. Stan Musial's 53 doubles in 1953 is the most in club history for a left-handed hitter.
Carpenter's 66 RBIs are also the most by a St. Louis leadoff batter since Lou Brock drove in 76 runs in 1967.
Ian McCue is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.