7/25/2014 11:22 P.M. ET
As player, Matheny knew La Russa was HOF caliber
By Daniel Kramer / MLB.com
CHICAGO -- Mike Matheny fielded a few questions on Friday about the man who used to occupy his post as the Cardinals' manager, Tony La Russa.
La Russa will be inducted to the Hall of Fame on Sunday in what is one of the deepest classes in recent memory. Along with La Russa -- who has three World Series rings to show for his 33 seasons managing the White Sox, A's and Cards -- fellow skippers Joe Torre and Bobby Cox, slugger Frank Thomas and pitchers Tom Glavine and Greg Maddux will be enshrined.
Matheny, who played catcher for La Russa's Cardinals from 2000-04, said: "We knew we were in the midst of a Hall of Fame-caliber manager. When you look at the numbers and the things he's been able to accomplish, obviously very worthy of the Hall of Fame."
La Russa was hired in May by the Arizona Diamondbacks to be the team's chief baseball officer.
"I think [La Russa is] enjoying getting back into -- not just being involved in the game, but being involved with the team -- winning and losing, where it means something," Matheny said.
Hall of Fame coverage begins at 11 a.m. CT with MLB Tonight live from Cooperstown on MLB Network and simulcast on MLB.com and the At Bat app, with the induction ceremony beginning at 12:30 p.m.
Matheny sees Craig finding swing
CHICAGO -- Allen Craig finds himself in a rough stretch at the plate as the Cardinals take on the Cubs this weekend.
After going 0-for-3 with two strikeouts in the Cardinals' 7-6 loss on Friday, Craig is hitting .136 (6-for-44) in July, and is continuing his struggles against a Cubs team that has held him to a nearly identical .135 (5-for-37) average this season.
"It happens to everybody," Cardinals manager Mike Matheny said. "He hasn't had it happen that much to him that often, if ever, obviously to this degree. It's been a situation where it's just hard to figure it out. But for what he's done for such a long period of time as the hitter that he is, right now he's in a fight to figure it out and get it right."
Craig remained in the heart of the order on Friday, hitting fifth against left-hander Travis Wood.
Matheny said before the game that Craig has made strides to regain his swing, and he noted that the ball hasn't necessarily found the gaps.
"I think we all saw during different periods … where it looked more Allen Craig-like," Matheny said. "Just a couple games ago when you watched him off [Dodgers ace Clayton] Kershaw -- real nice swing."
• Tony Cruz started his ninth game behind the plate on Friday since All-Star Yadier Molina sustained a torn ligament in his right thumb.
"He's doing a nice job," Matheny said. "I think that in most of these games, that's really the one requirement of our catcher, is to give our pitchers all the help that they need and prepare our staff to keep us in the game from a pitching-catching game perspective."
• The Cardinals also claimed George Kottaras off waivers from Cleveland to back up Cruz, and St. Louis is rumored to be shopping the market for another catcher as the July 31 non-waiver Trade Deadline approaches.
Daniel Kramer is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.