St. Louis Cardinals outfielder Stephen Piscotty began Wednesday in an 0-for-10 slump that had dropped his average to .220. Piscotty had fanned three times in the skid.
But Piscotty snapped the drought with a first-inning double and a seventh-inning single in the Cardinals’ 5-3 triumph over the Chicago Cubs. He is batting .241.
“The last two games, him chasing balls out of the zone, that’s out of character,” Cardinals manager Mike Matheny said. “Right up until that point, though, he was getting frustrated. He’s usually a better self-evaluator than that because he was hitting the ball hard. He was lining out, just missing balls. (He was) real close.
“We all know he’s a young player, but we sometimes give him too much credit that he should be beyond that sort of stuff. That’s probably not fair because guys who have been in this game 15 years still struggle with the same thing. They don’t get the results and they make adjustments they don’t necessarily need to.”
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Piscotty, one of the Cardinals’ most rigorous thinkers, can be prone to overevaluating.
“Stephen is going to learn these lessons just like everybody else,” Matheny said of the second-year player. “He’s not so smart that he can’t out-think this game sometimes. That’s just, unfortunately, part of it. He’ll learn it, make the adjustments and keep going because he’s got a real good idea of what he’s doing.”
Another young Cardinals outfielder, rookie Jeremy Hazelbaker, had his slump continue. Hazelbaker in mired in an 0-for-16 hole that has dropped his average to .310.
“Jeremy’s a confident kid,” Matheny said. “That’s part of why we’re excited to have him on our club. Just the way he handles some of the (tough) at-bats. He jumps back in there and takes another good one. That’s the kind of player I think he’s going to be.”
Pham is swinging
Outfielder Tommy Pham, on the disabled list since April 4 with a strained left oblique, has begun to swing a bat. Pham said he is within a week of a rehab assignment.
“I was apprehensive,” Pham said. “I’m swinging, so that’s progress. I have to get my strength, explosiveness and speed back. When I achieve all those, I’ll be ready to play.”
Pham has become restless even though it’s only April and most of the season is ahead.
“I’m tired of watching games right now. I want to play,” Pham said. “It’s frustrating. I’m not concerned about my timing because I track (pitches) off the machine daily.”
Adams back at first
First baseman Matt Adams collected two hits Tuesday night and was back in the lineup Wednesday for the series finale against the Cubs. He was 1-for-4 with a double.
Adams is hitting .259 (7-for-27) with one home run and three RBIs.
“I think when all of our guys get to a good spot where they feel good with their swing, you try and just keep them rolling as long as we can,” Matheny said. “We’ve watched that with a (Jeremy) Hazelbaker and we’ve watched that with a (Aledmys) Diaz.
“We’re very committed to trying to figure out how to keep everybody hot as long as we can. You’ve got to give them some time, so that will mean some opportunities off the bench. We’re not afraid to go to our bench guys, but also, it means they have to get some starts where they’re getting multiple at-bats in a game.”
Reliever Seth Maness has endured a rough start to the season, posting an 8.31 ERA in his first six games and 4 1/3 innings. For the time being, rookie Matt Bowman is ahead of Maness on the depth chart. Bowman has yielded just one run in his first 6 1/3 innings.
“We’re just trying to get Seth right,” Matheny said. “Once he gets right, we’ll be able to use him in the seventh (or eighth) to get us out of an inning. We’ve even had him in the ninth inning.
“He’s a feel guy, and he’s got to be feeling (the ball) right and he’s got to be able to control small parts of the plate. He’s getting close, but until he gets there, we need somebody to step up. Matt Bowman’s doing a nice job of that.”
Maness has been scored upon in four of his six outings. Right-handed batters have punished him for a .467 average (7-for-15).