Heyward out with Cardinals facing tough lefty

Heyward out with Cardinals facing tough lefty

ST. LOUIS -- Struggling Cardinals right fielder Jason Heyward was out of the starting lineup on Saturday against the Pirates. Heyward was hitting .212 through his first 22 games with the Cardinals, with two home runs and four RBIs.

Heyward starting the day on the bench was not a surprise as Pittsburgh was starting lefty Francisco Liriano. Heyward has a .222 career average against southpaws and has just one hit in six at-bats against Liriano.

"Sometimes, a day like this against a tough lefty, give him a little breather and he'll come back with a vengeance tomorrow," Cardinals manager Mike Matheny said.

Peter Bourjos got the start in center and Jon Jay moved to right for the Cardinals on Saturday.

Despite being hitless in his last eight at-bats, Heyward has shown some positive signs at the plate.

"You do look at kind of the process, you look at how he's gone about his business and swinging it," Matheny said. "He's had some balls he's hit hard. Overall, I know he's not exactly where he wants to be. We've got a lot of time to still fix that. Seeing some more consistent at-bats, we are seeing the walks, which means he's seeing the ball better."

Heyward has still managed to make positive contributions in other ways.

A Gold Glove fielder, Heyward threw out the Pirates' Sean Rodriguez, who was trying to stretch a single into a double in the eighth inning on Friday. Heyward also walked twice and stole two bases against the Bucs.

Heyward throws out Rodriguez

Matheny believes Heyward is close to getting back to form.

"The fact that he is getting on base and he has hit some balls hard, you go back through and you take some of those hard balls hit right at somebody and you throw those into the hit column, and this early in the season it doesn't take many of those to radically change that number," Matheny said.

"He's been around a little while and he trusts what he's doing. He'll get there. He's going about it the right way, and part of going about it the right way is to not take it into the outfield and figure out how you can change a game in the field when you're not doing it at the plate."

Joe Harris is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.