Holliday exits early, but move 'completely precautionary'

Cards expect outfielder to return Sunday after feeling back tighten up in first inning

Holliday exits early, but move 'completely precautionary'

ST. LOUIS -- Following the Cardinals' 5-2 win over the Reds on Saturday, manager Mike Matheny said he expects Matt Holliday, who exited the game after one inning due to mid-back tightness, to return to the lineup for Sunday night's series finale.

Holliday was pulled moments after doubling and scoring to give the Cardinals an early lead. He had extended the first inning with a two-out double off Reds starter Homer Bailey, against whom he is now 14-for-43 in his career. The outfielder then hustled home to score on Matt Adams' single to right and was seen clutching his side as he returned to the dugout.

Holliday was not available for comment afterward, but Matheny said Holliday tweaked his back on a throw and then felt it again on a check swing during his only at-bat.

"Better safe than sorry," Matheny said of the decision to pull his left fielder so early. "Completely precautionary."

Jon Jay, who started the game in center, took Holliday's place in left field. Peter Bourjos entered the game to play center and fill the third spot in the batting order. Randal Grichuk would have been a natural replacement for Holliday, but he too is dealing with a back injury. Grichuk's issue is serious enough that the Cardinals are placing him on the 15-day disabled list.

Holliday has been one of the team's most productive hitters through the first two weeks of the season. Holliday's double assured he has hit safely in all 10 of the Cardinals' games so far. He is batting 5-for-7 with runners in scoring position and has already tallied three game-winning RBIs.

Jenifer Langosch is a reporter for MLB.com. Read her blog, By Gosh, It's Langosch, follow her on Twitter @LangoschMLB and like her Facebook page Jenifer Langosch for Cardinals.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.