5/4/2014 8:43 P.M. ET
Matheny shuffles Cards' lineup again
By Joe Popely / MLB.com
CHICAGO -- The Cardinals' well-documented offensive woes this season have lead to nearly daily adjustments to the lineup by manager Mike Matheny, who is desperate to find something that will spark his struggling hitters.
Matheny was at it again Sunday. Most notably, he flipped Yadier Molina and Allen Craig from Saturday's lineup, moving Molina to the two-hole and Craig to the fifth spot in the order.
"Yeah, just trying to get something that looks right going there," Matheny said. "I think you could look at [Molina] almost as like what we did with Carlos [Beltran] in the two-spot. Not necessarily a guy that's going over and bunting people over, giving himself up, as much as an opportunity to have one of our top hitters in the lineup and getting him around there more often."
It worked well for Beltran and the Cardinals last season, to say the least. Some might not see Molina in the same light as Beltran due to the catcher's lack of foot speed, but Matheny appreciates Molina's professional approach at the plate.
"He handles that bat. He will do the little things right," Matheny said. "You see him, even when he's batting fifth, big situation in a game, he thrives on getting the guy over, driving the ball the other way when he has to, doing the small things situationally right."
Matheny also inserted Randal Grichuk in the seven-hole in place of Jon Jay, and Mark Ellis in the eight-hole for Greg Garcia. Ellis, who started the season on the DL and made his season debut April 15, slumped to a .133 average (4-for-30) in April and consequently lost some playing time.
Ellis snapped an 0-for-9 skid with a pinch-hit single in the ninth inning Saturday. Matheny also noted he wanted to get the recently promoted Garcia in the lineup since Garcia wasn't far removed from playing ever day. Grichuk entered 2-for-12 this season and made his third start on Sunday.
"Mark Ellis is going to be able to get some pretty consistent playing time for us," Matheny said. "Randal has done a nice job with the opportunities we've given him defensively, and taking good at-bats. Offensively, he's had a couple strikeouts, but the swing looks close, and we know what he was able to do at the Triple-A level, and once again, that's one of those guys we can fire in there and get a big hit for us."
Ellis, a career .265 in 12 big league seasons, said he isn't bothered by the inconsistent playing time.
"It doesn't matter," Ellis said. "When your number's called, you've got to go out there, you've got to perform. I feel good, I feel fine. Physically, I feel great. So hits are going to come, but hopefully they come soon, and I know they're going to come. It's just a matter of getting it done."
Ellis praised Grichuk and Garcia as good hitters that can help the Cardinals break out of their offensive inconsistencies, but said it's ultimately up to him and his fellow veterans to lead the way. And he stressed that base hits aren't the only way to evaluate offensive success -- having good at-bats is always important, regardless of outcome.
"You can't get four hits in one at-bat," Ellis said. "You've just got to go out there and you've got to have a good at-bat every time. If you have four at-bats in a game, you have four good at-bats. You can't always control the results, but you continue to do the best you can at having a good at-bat.
"We have a bunch of guys who are going through it at the same time right now, and this is too good of a team to stay down. And sooner or later, it's going to turn around. Hopefully sooner rather than later."
Garcia exits rehab start after getting hit in left elbow
CHICAGO -- The Cardinals got some encouraging news earlier this week when it was announced Jaime Garcia would join Double-A Springfield this weekend to begin his rehabilitation assignment for left shoulder inflammation. Excitement over Garcia's first rehab start quickly turned into concern Sunday afternoon after Garcia was hit in the left elbow by a pitch in his second-inning at-bat and was removed from the game.
X-rays came back negative and Garcia has a bruise. He will return to St. Louis for further evaluation.
Tulsa's Harold Riggins accounted for the only runs off Garcia with a two-run homer in the top of the second. Garcia allowed three hits, struck two and walked one in his two innings of work.
Righty Jason Motte also joined Garcia in Springfield for a rehabilitation assignment as he continues to progress from Tommy John surgery in May 2013. He struck out the side in a perfect eighth inning.
Cards going with Lyons on Tuesday vs. Braves
CHICAGO -- Cardinals manager Mike Matheny said before Saturday's game that he was leaning toward starting lefty Tyler Lyons on Tuesday in Atlanta. On Sunday, Matheny made it official.
"Well, I mean, he's done a nice job," Matheny said of Lyons. "We've given him an opportunity, and not a lot of statistical support as good as he's thrown. He's done a nice job, in the games that we've given him, to keep us in it, give us a chance, and hopefully he continues to do that."
Lyons has demonstrated considerable value as a pitcher capable of seamlessly transitioning between the bullpen and starting rotation. He's allowed six earned runs in two starts covering 12 innings, which were his first two appearances of the season (April 21 and 26). He then shifted to the bullpen, where he's tossed two scoreless innings.
Lyons needed just nine pitches to throw a scoreless inning in Saturday's 3-0 Cardinals loss to the Cubs, his first action in three days, so his arm is fresh. The Cardinals used Thursday's off-day to skip what would have been Lyons' turn in the rotation on Friday
And to Lyons, switching between the bullpen and rotation isn't difficult.
"Ah, it's not a big deal," said Lyons, who has struck out 14 and walked five in 15 innings overall. "I mean, it's a little different mindset from day to day, but in the end, it's all about just making pitches. It changes a little bit, but in the grand scheme of things, it's literally the same thing."
• Entering play Sunday, Matt Carpenter had struck out once every 3.9 at-bats, compared to once every 6.4 at-bats in 2013.
"He has typically such a good eye," Matheny said. "He knows his zone, and there's some borderline ones that are kind of getting called right now -- not necessarily that they're called any differently for anybody else, but it's just a matter of him really getting locked in on his zone. … I mean, they're good pitches. They're consistently making really good pitches late in the count, but he's had a few uncharacteristic swings and misses, too, but that's going to happen to the best of them."
• Matt Adams entered Sunday leading the National League with 14 multihit games.
Joe Popely is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.