DH spot will let Matheny rest regulars, improve defense

Manager also notes that playing in AL park will give certain players needed at-bats

DH spot will let Matheny rest regulars, improve defense

PITTSBURGH -- The second half of this road trip will take the Cardinals to Cleveland, where the designated-hitter spot will be available to them for the first time this season.

In the past, manager Mike Matheny has used the inclusion of the DH to give some of his everyday position players a break from playing the field. Matheny acknowledged the possibility that he'll do so again during the upcoming three-game series, while also potentially using the added lineup wrinkle to improve the team's defense.

One thing the club does not anticipate doing is calling up an extra position player solely for the purpose of having that bat featured in a DH-lineup, as the Cardinals did last year.

"We have bats ready to go," Matheny said. "We have guys who need the at-bats."

How the Cardinals construct their lineup with a DH will also depend upon the health of their available personnel. Matt Carpenter, who missed the series in Pittsburgh due to "extreme fatigue," is expected to rejoin the club in Cleveland, but he will need to receive medical clearance before returning to the field.

Additionally, center fielder Jon Jay is dealing with a bruised left thumb, which is the reason he was pulled late in Saturday's game and sat on Sunday.

These upcoming games against the Indians will be the first of 10 games the Cardinals are scheduled to play in American League parks this year.

Worth noting
• According to Matheny, outfielder Randal Grichuk (lower back tightness) did not play in an extended spring training game on Saturday, as expected, after his back tightened up on him during his travel to Florida.

• Marco Gonzales, after allowing four runs in 2 1/3 innings for Triple-A Memphis on Saturday, shared with Matheny that he "wasn't really trusting his stuff" in his first inning. The lefty, who hadn't pitched since April 20, added that by the end of his 56-pitch outing, he felt better.

• Right fielder Jason Heyward batted eighth for the Cardinals on Sunday, marking the first time since 2011 that he has hit that low in the order. Heyward started in the eight-hole 11 times that season for Atlanta.

Jaime Garcia began his Minor League rehab assignment on Sunday with a 2 2/3-inning performance for Triple-A Memphis. The lefty threw 72 pitches (42 strikes) and allowed five runs on six hits and two walks. Garcia struck out three. The Cardinals will need him to make at least one more start before considering him for a big league rotation spot.

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.