JUPITER, Fla. -- Manager Mike Matheny may not be ready to commit to a regular-season batting order, but the one he utilized for Wednesday's game against Washington offered a sneak peek at what it could be.
For the first time this spring, Matheny wrote all eight of his projected starting position players into the same lineup. Unsurprisingly, he lined Matt Carpenter, Jason Heyward and Matt Holliday up top. For Carpenter and Holliday, the placement is plenty familiar. Heyward, who simply hoped to escape the leadoff spot, has been hitting second throughout Grapefruit League play.
"When you start looking even at today's lineup and seeing Jay and Kolten down at the bottom, that's not a whole lot of time for an opposing team to breathe," Matheny acknowledged. "Any one of those guys can hurt you at any time."
The lineup features five left-handed hitters, though no more than two are hitting consecutively. Of course, with Cubs lefty Jon Lester slated to start against the Cardinals on Opening Night, Matheny could try to get an extra right-handed bat into the lineup for that game. Mark Reynolds, Peter Bourjos or Randal Grichuk could offer that look.
Matheny has noted the potential for lineup fluidity based upon the production the Cardinals are getting from their offense at any given time. There is certainly flexibility in moving around the middle-of-the-order hitters, and both Jay and Wong profile as potential top-of-the-order hitters should the Cardinals want to move pieces around at any point in the season.
"It has a chance to be pretty special," Carpenter said. "If it ends up playing out like we think, you're going to have two guys who can really get on base at the top of the order. You have a guy who is a proven three-hole hitter for his whole career and is going to give you a great season like he always does. Then you have 4-5-6 that, in whatever order it is, is as good a 4-5-6 as any in baseball. You look at your seven and eight hole and you have two very good hitters down there, no matter how that plays out."