WASHINGTON -- In an effort to jump-start Allen Craig and Jon Jay on offense, manager Mike Matheny tinkered with their places in the lineup for Monday's series opener against the Nationals.
For the first time this season, Craig batted second, a spot that has been occupied primarily by Matt Carpenter this season. Matheny's hope was that the different batting-order placement would relieve Craig of any self-induced pressure from batting in a more traditional run-producing spot.
Craig entered the series batting .234 and still seeking his first home run of the year. While the overall numbers don't standout, Craig's production with runners in scoring position continues to overshadow his otherwise subpar start. With his two-out, two-run double in the third on Monday, Craig pushed his RBI total to a team-best 14. Nine of his 17 hits this season have come with a runner in scoring position.
"In those situations, I just try not to do too much, put the barrel on it, and hopefully it finds a hole," Craig said. "So far, it's been going all right."
As for the home run drought?
"I don't worry about that," Craig answered. "I think that will come. I've hit some balls pretty good and they just haven't gone."
Separately, Matheny noted his preference for keeping Jay atop the lineup -- but not until the center fielder starts reaching base with more regularity. Jay, who has hit leadoff in 15 of his 18 starts this season, is batting .197 after an 0-for-4 night on Monday. He's drawn only three walks.
That's hardly the level of production the Cardinals are seeking from someone who is expected to set the tone from up top. While Jay works to find his way on offense, Carpenter looks to be the likeliest leadoff fill-in.
"If everybody is going great, you probably want to see him at the top of the lineup," Matheny said of Jay. "I think that second spot fits Matt well, but he could also fit anywhere in the next five spots and do a nice job. He could be a run-producer. He hasn't been as sharp as he'd like to be either. We're fighting right now, and a number of these guys would say they're not where they want to be on offense. But overall, we just have to figure out ways to keep making it happen."
Adams tweaks right side, Beltran gets start
WASHINGTON -- Cardinals manager Mike Matheny's plan to rest Carlos Beltran on Monday hardly had a shelf life, as an injury to Matt Adams during pregame work forced the rookie first baseman out of the lineup and Beltran back in.
Adams said he felt some tightness in his right side while taking swings in the batting cage before the team gathered for organized batting practice. That was the first indication of any issue, as he said he felt no discomfort while lifting weights or stretching earlier in the afternoon.
As a result, Adams was directed to the trainer's room while the rest of his teammates continued with their pregame work.
"[We] shut him down real fast," Matheny said. "He doesn't seem overly concerned, and neither does the medical staff. But we feel concerned enough not to put him in on a [cold] night like this."
With Adams unavailable to start, Matheny slid Beltran back into the lineup. The initial plan to sit the right fielder was dictated by some lower back tightness that Beltran had alerted the medical staff to on Sunday. But Beltran arrived at Nationals Park on Monday with news that he was feeling much better.
Matheny joked that while health situations were fluctuating throughout the afternoon, he wrote about 20 lineups in order to have all scenarios covered. The lineup he settled on plugged Beltran into the cleanup spot and pushed Yadier Molina into the five-hole. Molina had been slated to bat fourth before Beltran was reinserted.
Matheny will try to pick right spots for Boggs
WASHINGTON -- A day after another layer of frustration was tacked onto Mitchell Boggs' month, manager Mike Matheny laid out two priorities that will dictate how Boggs will be utilized moving forward.
Of primary importance, Matheny said, is aligning his bullpen so that the Cardinals have the best chance to win each night. Then, there's the simultaneous task of putting Boggs in spots where the right-hander can begin to regain lost confidence. Together, it all indicates that Boggs will be unplugged from late-inning, close-game situations until he can find some positive momentum.
"He's a confident guy overall, but he's had plenty of things that are working against him right now with his confidence," Matheny said. "We have to build him up. I know he's not looking for sympathy from anybody. He's handled it exactly how you'd want him to handle it. But we need to get him right, [and] most of that is just continuing to tell him how much we're going need him and that we're going to support him and get him right and get him back out there in whatever capacity we can to help us."
Boggs entered in the eighth inning of a tie game on Sunday and exited with the Cardinals looking up at a four-run deficit. He has already been plucked out from the closer's role, and Sunday's struggles indicated that putting him right back into an eighth-inning spot -- where he thrived in 2012 -- isn't going to immediately right the wrongs.
In his first 10 appearances this season, Boggs had blown two saves and lost another two games that he had entered with the score tied.
While Matheny hasn't publicly scripted out how he'll order his late-inning relievers, it looks as if he'll primarily stick with Trevor Rosenthal as the eighth-inning setup man, and Edward Mujica as a temporary closer. That will seemingly leave early-inning and low-leverage opportunities for Boggs to take.
"You continue to emphasize that we trust that he can get the job done," Matheny said. "I think there is a little bit of doubt. Every outing he gets is going to get him closer to who he was last year. We just have to figure out how to put him in situations that are going to be the best for us."
WASHINGTON -- Some items of note from around the Cardinals' farm system:
• Left-hander John Gast was named the Pacific Coast League's Pitcher of the Week after throwing 13 2/3 scoreless innings last week. Gast, 24, struck out 10, allowed 10 hits and held his Triple-A opponents to a .204 batting average during that stretch. Gast has not allowed a run in 24 2/3 innings this season. That string of consecutive scoreless innings has already broken the previous franchise record.
• James Ramsey, the No. 23 overall selection in the 2012 First-Year Player Draft, has landed on the seven-day disabled list with a strained left hamstring. Cardinals farm director John Vuch said that the organization expects Ramsey to be ready to return after the minimum week-long stay. Before the injury setback, Ramsey was hitting .357 with seven extra-base hits and six RBIs for Class A Advanced Palm Beach (Fla.).
• Triple-A catcher J.R. Towles has also been placed on the DL after straining his lower back while fielding a bunt on Sunday. Taking Towles' place on the Memphis roster is catcher Travis Tartamella, who opened the season with Double-A Springfield.
Jenifer Langosch is a reporter for MLB.com. Read her blog, By Gosh, It's Langosch, and follow her on Twitter @LangoschMLB. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.