St. Louis Cardinals

Mozeliak calls Cardinals a ‘work in progress’

St. Louis Cardinals General Manager John Mozeliak has been disappointed by the team’s performance in the last several weeks.
St. Louis Cardinals General Manager John Mozeliak has been disappointed by the team’s performance in the last several weeks. News-Democrat photo

General Manager John Mozeliak on Sunday expressed disappointment about his St. Louis Cardinals, who fell a season-worst seven games under .500 Saturday.

“We’re not on a great path right now,” Mozeliak said. “I can’t sit here and tell you we’ve got this figured out. We should be winning and we’re not. There’s a legitimate frustration from top to bottom. We’ve certainly got to rethink things and continue to try to improve, but when I look at this club right now, we’re sort of a work in progress.”

The Cardinals (34-40), who defeated Pittsburgh 8-4 on Sunday night, opened the season 3-9, but recovered to 21-15 on May 14 when they grabbed a 1 1/2-game lead in the NL Central. They have gone 13-25 since then and have scored three runs or fewer in 18 of 38 games.

Every aspect of the Cardinals has been inconsistent, a point Mozeliak emphasized.

“If I knew exactly what that answer was, I’d go out and try to fix it,” he said. “I think the frustration this year has been when we’re pitching, we’re not hitting. When we’re hitting, we’re not pitching. When we’re doing both, we’re committing errors.

“It’s been a club that has had a hard time finding a way to win.”

When the Cardinals on June 9 designated third baseman Jhonny Peralta for assignment and made changes to their coaching staff, Mozeliak said he would use the next four to six weeks to determine a course for the team.

St. Louis has gone 7-8 since that point and on Sunday made three roster moves, which could be the first of many to come in the next four weeks.

“The trend has not been helpful,” said Mozeliak, who almost certainly will be active at the nonwaiver trade deadline of July 31. “That’s part of why you see a day like (Sunday), too, where you’re seeing multiple moves and you’re hoping for some level of energy change and you’re hoping it can help get people going.”

Molina returns

Catcher Yadier Molina was back in the lineup Sunday and was 3-for-4 with a double and an RBI in the seventh that put the Cardinals ahead 5-4. Molina had missed the previous two games with soreness in his left knee, the result of being hit by foul tips Thursday in Philadelphia.

“He’s moving better today,” said Cardinals manager Mike Matheny, whose original lineup included Eric Fryer and not Molina. “That was just giving the medical team (a chance) to get their hands on (Molina) and see how he was feeling. It looks like he’s feeling better today. We’ll get him back in there (since) he’s ready to roll.”

Voit’s idol

Newcomer Luke Voit, whose contract was purchased by the Cardinals before the game Sunday, grew up in St. Louis and revered another slugging right-handed first baseman, Mark McGwire.

Voit, 26, was 7 when McGwire staged his epic home-run war with the Chicago Cubs’ Sammy Sosa in 1998. McGwire finished with a then-record 70 homers, four ahead of Sosa.

“He was my guy,” Voit said of McGwire. “I copied his stance when I was little, the same little twirl he had at the plate. I mean, hit moon shots. That’s what you want to do as a little kid, so when I was in the backyard, that was my guy.”

Voit is wearing No. 40. He was a catcher at Lafayette High in St. Louis and at Missouri State, from where the Cardinals drafted him in the 22nd round in 2013.

“I imagine he could catch in an emergency seeing how I know he has been back there before,” Matheny said. “He and I haven’t talked about that, so I should probably let him know I told you that. But he’s going to be a bat off the bench to come in and do some damage.

“The challenge is going to be trying to keep him sharp. That kind of comes with the territory of being a young guy coming into a big-league team.”

Makeup game

The Cardinals will play the Cincinnati Reds at 3:15 p.m. Monday at Busch Stadium in a rescheduled game from April 29.

Struggling Michael Wacha (3-3, 4.76 ERA) will pitch against the Reds’ Brandon Finnegan (1-0, 2.70 ERA). Wacha has failed to survive five innings in five of his last six starts and has an 8.17 during that stretch. Opposing hitters are batting .351 against him. 

David Wilhelm: 618-239-2665, @DavidMWilhelm

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