2s are wild: Bourios bats 2nd, collects 2 hits, scores 2 runs

News-DemocratApril 7, 2014 

— Sometimes things work according to plan.

That was the case Monday for St. Louis Cardinals manager Mike Matheny, who batted center fielder Peter Bourjos in the No. 2 spot --the same Peter Bourjos who had been 0-for-13 in his first five games before taking off Sunday.

Bourjos answered by collecting a single and a double in five at-bats and scoring two runs as the Cardinals outlasted the Cincinnati Reds 5-3 in their home opener at Busch Stadium.

"It's nice to get one to fall in," Bourjos said of his first-inning single to center that led to a three-run outburst against left-hander Tony Cingrani. "And hopefully, I can build from here and have some better at-bats."

Bourjos, sandwiched between Matt Carpenter and Matt Holliday, had batted seventh and eighth in his first four starts of the season.

"We didn't have any conversations," Bourjos said when asked whether Matheny had discussed the topic with him. "I really didn't think too much of it. I just wanted to go out there and help the team win and get that first hit."

Bourjos doubled over third base with one out in the seventh and scored on Holliday's double that made it 4-1.

The speedy Bourjos batted second just two times in 45 starts last season with the Los Angeles Angels. He knows he's bound to see more fastballs from pitchers determined not to put him on base ahead of Holliday and cleanup hitter Allen Craig. That fits into Bourjos' natural tendency to be aggressive.

"I think it's more of a jump-start for now," Bourjos said of the switch. "Last year, hitting me behind (Mike) Trout a little bit, they tried to do that, too. And you get some more fastballs here with Holliday, obviously. They're not going to be pitching around you as much or getting you to chase. They're going to come right at you."

Matheny said Bourjos has been trying too hard to make a good impression.

"I think that first (hit) just took a ton of weight off his shoulders," Matheny said. "And you see what speed does. It drew in the infield to make the second hit good. Once you get him on base, fun things can happen. ... Especially with a new team, for Peter to get going a little offensively, it's exactly what we were hoping for today."

Ellis on mend

Reserve second baseman Mark Ellis is on the disabled list with tendinitis in his left knee, but the veteran took indoor batting practice for the first time Monday.

"I've done nothing really baseball-wise," Ellis said. "Just kind of letting it rest, rehabbing it and strengthening up things around it. But I feel good. I feel it's definitely going in the right direction."

Ellis, 36, injured the knee early in spring training, then aggravated it when he slipped during a game later in camp. He more than likely is headed toward a rehab stint, even if that's not desirable.

"You never want to. Rehab assignments aren't fun," Ellis said. "But whatever is going to make me more prepared to play big-league games."

Compared to four or five days ago, Ellis said the knee "doesn't hurt as much."

"I can do more things," he said. "Going up stairs and going down stairs are tests when I wake up in the morning. ... We're getting the soreness out of there."

Ellis, the former Los Angeles Dodger, was glad he was able to participate in Opening Day ceremonies even if he wasn't physically able to perform. When introduced, he walked to the first-base line rather than job, a sign he still isn't right.

"It's never fun to be on the DL," Ellis said. "I am where I am. It will be fun to see the (activities) today. Obviously, you want to be out there on the field. Everything's headed in the right direction."

Ellis signed a one-year, $5.25 million free-agent contract Dec. 16 to back up rookie Kolten Wong.

Wong contributes

Wong reached on an error, was walked intentionally and singled and stole second in his home debut.

If it looked like Wong was more comfortable than last season, he confirmed that was the case.

"Night and day," he said. "I felt like I belonged here last year, but I didn't have that confidence. Now I'm going to the field with that confidence that I know I can play with this team and I can hopefully help this team win."

Contact reporter David Wilhelm at dwilhelm@bnd.com or 239-2665. Follow him on Twitter: @DavidMWilhelm.

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