ST. LOUIS -- Matt Carpenter, hitless in his last nine at-bats, was unplugged from the starting lineup on Tuesday as manager Mike Matheny sensed the third baseman was beginning to fight fatigue.
Rest has been rare for Carpenter, whose only other day off this season came on April 16. That didn't turn out to be much of a day off either, as he entered as a pinch-hitter and ended up playing another three innings. His 69 starts are tied with outfielder Matt Holliday for most on the team.
"Yesterday it kind of came to a head midgame, and I knew it was most likely going to be an opportunity to give him a day," Matheny said. "I talked to him last night and he fought me a little bit. Then I think he realized ... it just made for a good day."
The timing took Carpenter out of the lineup against Mets left-hander Jon Niese, against whom he is 4-for-7 in his career. But Carpenter is 1-for-14 on this homestand. The Cardinals have nevertheless managed to win each of those four games despite the limited production from the leadoff spot.
The move isn't just reactive, either, as the Cardinals would like to help Carpenter stay fresh in order to avoid the second-half slump he endured last summer after being pushed as an everyday player. He had a 1-for-31 stretch in late July to early August.
Carpenter wasn't the only regular absent from Tuesday's lineup. Second baseman Kolten Wong and first baseman Matt Adams also sat, though those were matchup-based decisions. Instead, Matheny created starting opportunities for the right-handed-hitting Mark Ellis and Peter Bourjos.
Handling third in place of Carpenter was Daniel Descalso, making just his 10th start of the season. Playing time has been scarce for Descalso, who has fallen to the back of the infield depth chart as the Cardinals have found production elsewhere. His versatility has also led Matheny to hold him on the bench as a possible late-game defensive substitution, which has, in turn, cost him possible pinch-hit spots in earlier innings.
"It's been difficult," Matheny said, speaking of trying to find opportunities for the infielder. "He deserves better. It's just been hard to [find opportunities]. Everybody around here has a great deal of respect for him and how he plays the game. Hopefully, we can keep him sharp by getting him a little more time."
Descalso leads the club with four hits in 14 at-bats as a pinch-hitter.
Cardinals playing with short bench, bullpen
ST. LOUIS -- The Cardinals faced the Mets on Tuesday with both a short bench and bullpen after opting not to make a roster move prior to the second game of the three-game set. Manager Mike Matheny said the club will re-evaluate the roster situation after Tuesday's game to determine if a callup needs to be made before the series finale.
As of now, the Cardinals' eight-man bullpen is down to six available relievers for the rest of this series, as Carlos Martinez (59 pitches) and Nick Greenwood (60 pitches) will need a few days to recover from their extended appearances on Monday.
Yet Greenwood, who likely would have been the one sent out had a move been made, was able to limit the rest of the load put on the bullpen by taking the reins from Martinez and pitching into the eighth in his Major League debut. Randy Choate then faced two batters, and Seth Maness closed the win with 1 1/3 scoreless innings.
"The way we look at it is because Seth, Carlos and Nick did what they did, we have a pretty healthy 'pen right now," Matheny said. "If we need to change that tomorrow, we have the ability to do that without making a quick move just to get us through today, where we feel we're pretty well covered."
The Cardinals have been playing with a four-man bench since summoning Greenwood on Sunday. The organization's preference is to add that fifth position player back as soon as possible. At the latest, that should happen once the Cardinals confirm that Adam Wainwright will make his scheduled start on Saturday. By that point, Martinez will have gotten his needed rest and a reliever (most likely Greenwood) can then be swapped for the extra hitter.
• Matheny said that Wainwright is scheduled to play catch on Wednesday to again test his right elbow, which has been bothered by tendinitis. The Cardinals still expect Wainwright to be ready to make his next scheduled start on Saturday.
• Reliever David Aardsma, who the Cardinals recently considered for a callup, has been placed on the Triple-A disabled list with a right groin injury. The injury, general manager John Mozeliak confirmed, is related to a hip issue that has been recently bothering Aardsma. Aardsma pitched a scoreless inning for Memphis on Monday.
• The Cardinals announced plans to hold two Busch Stadium events with Hall of Famer Bob Gibson on July 16-17, during which fans will have a photo opportunity with the 1967 World Series championship trophy, dinner and drinks, a 90-minute question-and-answer session with broadcaster Dan McLaughlin and receive a Gibson autographed baseball. For more information and/or to purchase tickets ($225 each), visit cardinals.com/GibsonNight.
• Triple-A outfielder Stephen Piscotty extended his hitting streak to nine games with a two-hit performance in Memphis' 3-1 loss on Monday. Piscotty has hit safely in 16 of his last 17 games, posting a .377 batting average during that stretch. He leads the club with 24 multihit games.
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.