ST. LOUIS -- Despite being cautious about over-extending slugger Allen Craig just seven weeks after he went down with a foot injury, Cardinals manager Mike Matheny made a late change to his Game 5 starting lineup, putting Craig at first base and hitting him in the sixth spot.
After suffering a Lisfranc injury in September, Craig set his sights on a World Series return and was able to contribute as a designated hitter the first two games and then play a pivotal role as a pinch hitter when the series swung to St. Louis, scoring the winning run in Game 3 on a controversial obstruction call.
Matheny said he wanted to be careful not to ask Craig to do too much too soon, but with a .444 batting average (4 for 9) in the series, Craig has been the Cardinals best hitter in the series even though he hasn't been at full strength.
Craig had been taking ground balls the past few days. Still, Matheny was leery of using him in the field. He got more reps in today, Matheny said.
"He was actually going to get a little bit more work today," Matheny said. "We ended up kind of holding back on him, making sure he's going to be ready to DH those games. But, yeah, he felt better yesterday, much better than what he thought he was going to feel, and even better today. So that's continued to move forward."
With the Cardinals hitting .234 as a team, Matheny shuffled his lineup looking to find ways to get runners on base for his best hitters. Carlos Beltran was moved from the two-hole to the cleanup spot and Shane Robinson will start in center field and hit second.