Deep into Wednesday night, or perhaps into Thursday morning, Brandon Moss remained at Busch Stadium, trying to iron out the kinks in his swing.
Moss, a first baseman acquired by the St. Louis Cardinals from the Cleveland Indians on July 30 for minor-league left-hander Rob Kaminsky, had just gone 0-for-3 with three strikeouts in an important 4-2 victory over the Pittsburgh Pirates. Moss is batting .147 (5-for-34) with 11 strikeouts.
“Last night after the game was a big step forward. We worked through some things,” Moss said Thursday after batting practice. “Obviously, I know the home runs, the hits, those will come. I would like for them to come sooner rather than later because you want to make a good impression and do something to help the team. Fortunately, everyone is playing well and we’re winning the ballgames, so there hasn’t been too much of a focus on it.
“But like I was telling my dad, there’s going to come a point where everyone is not swinging well and everything is not going so well, and I’m going to come up in a big situation and need to come through for the team. I need to be ready, and I need to be in a position to do that. And if I keep having at-bats like I had (Wednesday) night, I’m not going to be.”
Cardinals manager Mike Matheny acknowledged Thursday that Moss was pressing.
“Yes. Just because he cares,” Matheny said. “He was very clear about how excited he is to be here, and then to not be able to jump in and take the kind of at-bats (he needs), he’s frustrated.
“(But) he’s a pro. I believe he’s helping us. I’m watching some of the conversations he’s having with some of the younger players and the veterans. I think he’s got a great presence with our club. He needs, for himself and for us, to jump into a good feel at the plate.”
Matheny is certain that Moss will correct his flaws. After all, he’s been through this before.
“At this point, he should know what’s worked in the past,” Matheny said. “We’ll create some new original ideas and maybe help him out, but he’s just going to have to grind through it.”
Moss was eager to offer immediate contributions to the Cardinals, who already were the best team in baseball before his arrival. He had a walk-off single Aug. 2 against Colorado, but there have been very few other positives besides a handful of well-hit balls that were caught.
“You come to a new team and you come to a place like this that has such great guys, you want to make a good impression and you want to help,” Moss said. “And I think, obviously, with the way things went the first week with hitting some balls well and not having much to show for it, you try a little extra.
“I definitely don’t think that was the problem with (Wednesday) night. (Wednesday) night was a bad approach and being way overaggressive and trying to do more than I was going to be able to do. I wasn’t getting pitches to do what I wanted to do, but I was trying to create something anyway. Next thing you know, you’re 0-for-3 with three punchouts.”
Piscotty plays first
The Cardinals are not inclined to take Stephen Piscotty’s bat out of the lineup. Piscotty moved from left field to first base Thursday as left-hander Francisco Liriano pitched for Pittsburgh.
Matheny shifted Randal Grichuk from center field to left field, which enabled him to start defensive whiz Peter Bourjos in center. Bourjos entered the game 9-for-28 (.321) with three doubles, one triple and three RBIs against Liriano.
“Part of it is the fact we have to keep Peter going,” Matheny said of using Piscotty at first. “Almost every game, he’s coming in at some point. With that being said, this is a pretty good matchup, numbers-wise, to get him in there. ... How do we get Peter in, keep Stephen engaged and take advantage of how he’s been putting together some at-bats against some good lefties, and also keep Randal in there?”
Through Wednesday, Bourjos had just four plate appearances in August and was 0-for-2. He had played in six games. The start Thursday was his first since July 28.
Piscotty began Thursday hitting .348. He is still learning how to play first base.
“I think the more we watch him, the more we’ll know,” Matheny said. “I think right now, he’s been getting a lot of work in between. We’ll only find out what he needs to work on. We’ll find out whether or not he can do it. We know he can do it, but maybe we’ll find out some of the things he needs to improve on.
“Just like we’ve talked about pretty consistently with his approach to the plate, he’s a quick study. He figures things out. He’s not afraid to do the work, not afraid to ask the questions. Hopefully, he’ll continue to move in a good direction.”
Longtime instructor George Kissell will be among the inductees to the Cardinals Hall of Fame on Saturday. Others entering the Hall will be Ted Simmons, Bob Forsch and Curt Flood.
Kissell died in 2008 at age 88. Matheny remembers him as one of the most knowledgeable coaches he ever encountered.
“He would sit and he would ask me questions all the time,” Matheny said. “He just wanted to learn, even though it was something he learned. I’m sure whatever I learned, he had learned it many times many years before, but he was humble enough to try to figure out how to create that atmosphere where everybody’s pushing the needle forward.”