Injured Craig gets in some swings; will he be ready for World Series?

News-DemocratOctober 19, 2013 

— First baseman Allen Craig took live batting practice Friday and will do more of the same as he tries to earn a roster spot for the St. Louis Cardinals in the World Series.

Craig has been sidelined with a sprained left foot since Sept. 5, but has made recent progress. He took his swings Friday against rehabilitating left-hander Jaime Garcia, lefty Sam Freeman and veteran right-hander Jake Westbrook.

"Allen had a good day," Cardinals manager Mike Matheny said before the Cardinals beat Los Angeles 9-0 in the deciding Game 6 of the National League Championship Series. "He got to face living hitting; he put together some good at-bats. It didn't look like he really missed much.

"(There) really wasn't a timing issue. He said he felt good, so that's all things pointing in a positive direction. (The) next step is we'll probably repeat the process as we look at how things play out here in the next day or so."

Craig batted .315 with 29 doubles, 13 home runs and 97 RBIs in 134 regular-season games. Matt Adams has replaced Craig and is batting .237 with one homer and three RBIs in 10 postseason games.

Coming through for Carlos

Before the game, the Cardinals said they were hoping they'd get right fielder Carlos Beltran into his first World Series, after 2,109 games in the majors.

"I think there's always those good stories out there of guys who deserve it by how they go about it, and Carlos is as much of a pro at this game and just how he goes about the whole team concept," Matheny said. "So I know they want it just as badly for all of us as they do for any one particular person.

"But you see somebody who has had the caliber of career that Carlos has had, and you don't get these opportunities very often. And to be able to maximize and hopefully be able to do something that his kind of career deserves is special to him."

Lofty expectations

Matheny was hoarse when he spoke to reporters after the game, a victory that put him in the World Series in his second year as manager. Last year, in his first season succeeding Tony La Russa, the club fell one win short of the Fall Classic.

"We've been fortunate to be in an organization (where) winning is a tradition, winning is an expectation," said Matheny, who was the starting catcher for the Cardinals' 2004 World Series team that was swept by the Red Sox. "We start talking early on (in spring training) about the history and the championships, the great players who have been through here and people who have made their mark on this organization and in the game.

"We take a lot of pride in trying to carry ourselves like a championship club."

Robinson for Jay

Right-handed-hitting Shane Robinson singled twice and drove in two runs when he got the start in center field Friday against left-handed Clayton Kershaw.

Left-handed-hitting Jon Jay has been shaky defensively and batted just .206 (7-for-34) in 11 postseason games, including an eighth-inning single on Friday. And against lefties, Jay batted .220 with two homers against lefties during the regular season.

Robinson, meanwhile, hit his first playoff home run in Game 4 on Tuesday, a pinch-hit blast in the Cardinals' 4-2 win. Robinson batted only .228 vs. left-handers in the regular season.

"I found out earlier today when I got to the field," Robinson said of his assignment, which had him batting seventh in the Cardinals' batting order. "Mike came and told me, and I feel pretty good about it."

Matheny had hoped to catch some momentum from Robinson's big swing Tuesday.

"When we have a left-hander starting against us, we kind of stack the top (of our order) with our righties," Matheny said. "The thought process really is to try and get some more offense if we can. It's no secret how effective Kershaw has been against left-handers, and he's a tough assignment."

Contact reporter David Wilhelm at dwilhelm@bnd.com or 239-2665.

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