'It's a big deal': Matheny, Cardinals get 2013 NL Championship rings

News-DemocratApril 8, 2014 

— Manager Mike Matheny and his St. Louis Cardinals received their 2013 National League Championship rings Tuesday in a pregame ceremony.

Matheny said his fingers are not suited for wearing rings after a long career behind the plate, but that he probably would make an exception this time around.

"I'm going to be wearing this one," he said. "My fingers have been busted up pretty bad, so they don't hold rings very well. But I'm going to make sure that this one stays on me."

Matheny said he has worn rings in the past so people could see them and so he would be motivated to get another one.

"And I think that's kind of why I'm going to wear this one," he said. "It's something special. When you see that (championship) banner get raised, it's a big deal. I want these guys to realize it's a big deal and was a big deal to me what we were able to accomplish last year.

"It's also a good reminder, too, that we had one step left. I think it's more in the messaging. It's something I'm real proud of. I'm proud of what this group was able to do last year."

Bourjos the blazer

Peter Bourjos showed the kind of speed Cardinals fans haven't seen in a while Monday when he doubled past third in the seventh.

With Bourjos and Cincinnati's Billy Hamilton on the same field in the home-opening series, it's difficult to find two faster runners.

Hamilton, a switch-hitter, probably is faster than Bourjos, but Bourjos might be the swiftest right-handed hitter.

"It's been a couple of months here, and we still really haven't seen all of his speed," Matheny said of Bourjos. "We haven't seen the base-stealing. ... He's an elite runner. There's no question about it. But I think there's still some 'wow' that we're going to have ahead of us because we just haven't seen it yet."

Hamilton showed his speed in the first inning Monday when he turned what would be a single for most hitters into a double.

"He's an effortless runner," Matheny said. "That was pretty indicative (Monday) of the kind of speed he has. He made that look pretty simple."

Wong, Bourjos flip-flop

With a right-hander on the mound for Cincinnati on Tuesday, Bourjos was dropped from second to eighth in the order as Kolten Wong went from eighth to second.

Wong talked about his confidence level being "night and day" higher than last season, which plays in a role in the Cardinals' ability to move him around in the order.

"He's gone about it in a very consistent way right now," Matheny said. "He's going about his at-bats, it looks to me, about the same no matter where he is in the order. I think that's a sign of maturity, not trying to do too much. He's seeing the ball well and putting nice, consistent short strokes on it. It's going to pay off in the long run as long as he can keep that thought philosophy."

Motte throws again

Reliever Jason Motte threw a 19-pitch simulated inning Tuesday in extended spring training in Jupiter, Fla., as he continues his rehab from Tommy John surgery.

"He said everything felt good," said Matheny, adding that there was no hard contact made against Motte.

Motte said at the end of spring training that he believed he was on pace to return in late April to early May. But Matheny reiterated Tuesday that the Cardinals have no timetable.

"We're afraid to put that on him," Matheny said. "(But) I know that's what he's got in his mind."

Motte will pitch again Friday.

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

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