ST. LOUIS -- It was the final weekend of Spring Training when Lance Berkman requested the opportunity to sit out a Grapefruit League game and instead get his work in on the Minor League fields. His reasoning was sensible. He needed to take some at-bats against right-handed pitching, a task that had been tough to do because of the high number of lefty starters the Cardinals faced in spring games.
Since the regular season commenced, however, that imbalance has been skewed the opposite direction.
Wednesday marked St. Louis' 12th game, and only twice has the club taken the field against a left-handed starter. That string of righty opponents is set to continue for another three games, too, as the Cards won't see a lefty until Sunday, when they face Pittsburgh's Erik Bedard.
The preponderance of righty starters has affected the playing time of Tyler Greene more than anyone else. Expected to get the majority of second-base starts against left-handed starters, Greene has seen Daniel Descalso's name in the lineup much more often.
Manager Mike Matheny did, though, change things up on Wednesday, opting to give Greene the start against righty Mat Latos. The choice to start Greene wasn't so much to do with a favorable matchup -- both Greene and Descalso entered 1-for-3 against Latos -- but with wanting to find a way to keep Greene involved.
Descalso is expected to return to the lineup for Thursday's series finale.
For now, Matheny keeping Beltran in No. 2 slot
ST. LOUIS -- The question posed to Cardinals manager Mike Matheny on Wednesday was a natural follow-up the day after Carlos Beltran connected for his team-leading fourth home run.
Has he considered moving the six-time All-Star outfielder down in the lineup?
The rationale, of course, would be to create more-run scoring opportunities for Beltran -- who hit his fifth homer, a two-run shot in the second inning off the Reds' Mat Latos. There'd be a greater chance, too, that his home runs would come with runners on base. Matheny has certainly considered such an alternative, but for now, he plans to avoid any tinkering.
"When things are going well, I think you can over think a little bit and outthink yourself," Matheny said. "You're going to have to pick your poison, but right now, we have a good solid group behind him that have had hard at-bats. I like where he is right now."
When Matheny has had all his regulars healthy and in the lineup, Beltran has been the team's regular No. 2 hitter. Three of Beltran's four homers have come from that spot in the order. But all were hit with the bases empty.
Beltran's other home run was a two-run blast, and it came on a day when he moved to the cleanup spot because of an injury to Lance Berkman.
Beltran's high career on-base percentage was one of the factors Matheny cited when he decided to begin the year with the right fielder hitting ahead of Matt Holliday. In many ways, the decision to hit Beltran near the top of the order has worked. His .467 on-base percentage ranks fifth in the National League, and only two players had scored more runs than him entering Wednesday. Beltran also leads the Cardinals with six multi-hit games and seven walks.
"There will be times when it won't be working and you've got to start being creative," said Matheny, whose offense led the league in most offensive categories entering play Wednesday. "But I don't think it's now."
Cardinals Care to distribute $133K in grants
ST. LOUIS -- The Cardinals recognized 71 area organizations at Busch Stadium on Wednesday during the club's annual grant ceremony, during which they announced that Cardinals Care will distribute $133,000 in grants to these various non-profit groups, all of which do specific work with children.
Many of this year's grant recipients were on-hand for the ceremony, which included speeches from infielder Daniel Descalso, Cardinals president Bill DeWitt III and Michael Hall, the vice president of the team's charitable foundation.
Since Cardinals Care was founded in 1997, it has provided close to $18 million to organizations in nearby communities. Nearly $11 million of those funds have come in the form of cash grant distributions. These grants have impacted over 800 non-profit youth organizations and have helped lead to the construction of 19 baseball fields.
"Cardinals Care is very important for all the guys in the clubhouse," Descalso said. "We appreciate all [they] do to root us on, and this is the least that we can do to give back."
The largest yearly fundraiser for Cardinals Care comes each January, when the organization holds its three-day Winter Warm-Up events downtown. Descalso was one of many players who attended this year.
Skip Schumaker (right oblique strain) led off and played center field for Triple-A Memphis on Wednesday. The start was Schumaker's third since beginning a Minor League rehab assignment. He did not play on Tuesday, as it was a scheduled day off.
Manager Mike Matheny has extended a starting pitcher beyond 94 pitches only once through the team's first 11 games. That exception was Lance Lynn, who threw 100 pitches in his season debut. It's not uncommon, early in the season, for managers to be cautious with the workload of their starters. Matheny clarified, though, that his decision to pull pitchers with sub-100-pitch counts has been due more to situational decisions than strict pitch limits.
"All these guys are ready to go deeper into the game," Matheny said. "[Adam Wainwright] is probably the one on the lower end of that list. Medically, we've got clearance for everybody and they've all built up to where they should be over 100."
Pitching prospect John Gast is 3-0 in three starts for Double-A Springfield. He allowed one run on three hits and struck out six in a 6 1/3-inning start on Tuesday. Gast returned to Springfield this month after making his final 13 starts of 2011 at that level.
Including Wednesday, the Cardinals have scored first in nine of 12 games this season. St. Louis entered the night 7-1 when scoring first.
Jenifer Langosch is a reporter for MLB.com. Read her blog, By Gosh, It's Langosch, and follow her on Twitter @LangoschMLB. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.