8/13/2014 11:41 P.M. ET
Matheny: 'Best offense is ahead of us'
Manager has slumping Cards skip regular BP on field, sends them to batting cage
By Maria Torres / MLB.com
MIAMI -- This six-game road trip hasn't been the kindest to the Cardinals' win column. Entering play on Wednesday, St. Louis had won once since landing in Baltimore last weekend.
Even though the Cards hit .263 (46-for-175) in the first five games of their trip, they were unable to execute on their opportunities, which allowed opponents to outscore them 34-18.
They had to do something different to snap out of that rut, so before Wednesday night's series finale against the Marlins, the Cardinals elected to skip regular batting practice for some time in the cages. Manager Mike Matheny said he tries to get his team in there at least once per series, but Wednesday seemed like the best opportunity due to the travel schedule back to St. Louis.
"It's just a matter of trying to maximize the work that we're doing here and not coming out and doing things just because that's the way we normally do," Matheny said.
A few players have been working in the cage all series, and Matheny has seen some improvements. He was so confident in the progress his entire team has made that he predicted St. Louis' "best offense is ahead of us."
That said, the way the Cardinals have been hitting of late -- their .249 second-half average ranked 18th in the Majors entering Wednesday -- has inspired plenty of adjustments. Not enough to mess with routines but enough to try to get the team closer to its .269 clip in 2013, which was fourth best in the league.
"We have a few guys who have been solely doing their stuff in the cage and have been swinging the bat well, so I think there's something to be noted there," Matheny said. "Sometimes taking a little different approach can make a difference."
Motte's Sunday target date might be too optimistic
MIAMI -- The status of Jason Motte's recovery from a lower back strain is still unknown. Manager Mike Matheny said before Wednesday's series finale at Marlins Park that he wasn't sure where Motte was undergoing treatment, but "I imagine still back in St. Louis."
When Motte was placed on the 15-day disabled list on Friday (retroactive to Aug. 2), the Cardinals expected the right-hander to return on the first day he was eligible, which would be Sunday.
But they also wanted to get him in some rehab games, so the Sunday target date might be too soon.
Motte was used inconsistently while he was on the active roster. After missing the first seven weeks of the season to finish his recovery from Tommy John surgery, he made 24 appearances and posted a 4.91 ERA.
• In the seventh inning of Wednesday night's 5-2 win, Matheny took Matt Holliday out of the game because he'd been complaining of tightness in his left knee. Matheny wasn't sure when the flare-up occurred, but the outfielder is expected to play on Thursday.
• The Cardinals announced Wednesday that they agreed to a two-year extension of their player development contract with the Class A State College Spikes. The contract will maintain the affiliation between the Spikes and St. Louis through the 2016 season.
Maria Torres is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.