Luke Voit didn’t have to wait long for his first major-league start.
Voit, whose contract was purchased from Class AAA Memphis on Sunday, played first base and batted sixth Monday against the Cincinnati Reds. He had his first career hit, a double to right-center, in the fifth inning of the Cardinals’ 8-2 victory.
“You dream about that as a little kid,” said Voit, who was 1-for-4. “It’s something I’ll remember forever. It’s awesome to do it here. I feel like I can breathe now.”
Voit, a graduate of Lafayette High in St. Louis, enabled the Cardinals to provide a needed breather for Matt Carpenter, whose average has dropped from .250 to .236 with a 3-for-26 slump since June 17.
Voit made his first appearance Sunday and was hit by a pitch as a pinch-hitter in the Cardinals’ 8-4 win over Pittsburgh.
Voit, who played at Missouri State, said he’s “living a little kid’s dream.”
“It’s awesome,” Voit said. “There are a lot of emotions running right now. It’s even cooler that I get to do it in front of a lot of my family and friends. I’m excited to get going.”
Cardinals manager Mike Matheny said Sunday that the challenge will be keeping Voit sharp without regular at-bats. Voit, a former catcher, plays only first base these days.
“Whenever we bring these young players up, it’s not to fill a spot; it’s to make an impact,” Matheny said. “He’s been on such a great roll this season — the last two seasons; we’ll let him play when he gets an opportunity. (His time) is going to be limited because Matt plays a lot. We just know it’s the rest he needs more than anything else.
“We’re excited for Luke. I’m happy for him, but I’m happy for us, too. We’ve got a good player. We want to see what he can do.”
Second baseman Kolten Wong still has no idea when he will begin a minor-league rehab assignment. Wong is on the disabled list with a strained right triceps.
Wong said Monday that he doesn’t want to rush back and suffer a setback, a strategy 100 percent endorsed by Matheny.
“They’ve thrown some different ideas out there ... but no firm date,” Matheny said of the Cardinals’ training staff’s plans for Wong. “The purpose of the disabled list is to get right and come back so it’s something you have behind you.”
The Cardinals certainly aren’t hurting for help at second base, with rookie Paul DeJong and Greg Garcia sharing the assignments. Wong, however, was enjoying perhaps his best season at the big-league level when he was disabled June 15. He is batting .301 in 47 games.
The Cardinals begin a difficult stretch of games when they play the opener of a three-game series against the Arizona Diamondbacks (49-28) at 8:40 p.m. Tuesday in Phoenix. They promptly return to Busch Stadium for a weekend series against Washington (45-30).
Matheny said the Diamondbacks are “a good club.”
“We’ll be talking about them a whole lot more (Tuesday),” he said. “But yeah, you could see this coming with the mix of veteran arms (and) young, powerful guys in their rotation – a good back end. And then the speed and strength that they have in a ballpark where the ball jumps. They’ve got really good defenders.”
St. Louis is 13-25 against teams with winning records.
“Every time we hit the field ... we’ve got this litmus test for ourselves because we just haven’t been who we want to be yet, regardless of who we’re playing against,” Matheny said. “It obviously gets magnified a little bit when you’re playing teams that won’t allow you to make many mistakes. They make you pay by capitalizing on the mistakes you make.
“It gets back to us. How do we play better, consistent baseball? I still feel if we do that, you’re going to see results.”