PITTSBURGH -- Once Cardinals manager Mike Matheny had determined that Brandon Moss would start in Tuesday's game against the Pirates, he not only had to decide where Moss fit in the batting order, but also in the field.
Moss drew the start at first base this time around (the Cards lost the game, 6-5), though he could have swapped spots with Matt Holliday, who started in left field but has proven himself a capable first baseman. Through much of spring, when the two were in the same lineup, Holliday handled first base, while Moss covered left field. However, that was done more out of a desire to get Holliday repetition at a new position than because of any preferred defensive alignment.
Asked if Tuesday was an indication of how the two would fit together in the field this season, Matheny opted against talking in absolutes.
"I think it's just coming down to who is more comfortable where," Matheny said. "You could go either way with that. I know that Holliday has played a lot of outfield in this outfield. And we know Moss is, in our minds, a more experienced defender at first. There's just more comfort at this point in the season, but we won't hesitate to throw [Holliday] back at first either."
Holliday made his first-base debut on Sunday, though he lasted only one inning there because of an injury to outfielder Tommy Pham. He's played many more innings in left field (13,845 2/3) than Moss (1,077 2/3), and the data does show that he's been a better defensive left fielder.
Over his career, Holliday's total number of Defensive Runs Saved comes to -31, which averages out to Holliday costing his team a run every 91 chances. Moss, with a DRS total of -5, has cost his club a run every 47 chances he has gotten in left field.
At first base, Moss has averaged one run lost for every 103 chances. Holliday's sample size is obviously still negligible at this point, which makes it impossible to draw any comparisons between the two players at that position.
Matheny acknowledged that it was "hard to say" whether he'd stick with this defensive alignment in future opportunities. The size of a ballpark's outfield, as well as Holliday's growth as a first baseman, will factor into later decisions.
"We're not married to one philosophy over the other," Matheny said.
Jenifer Langosch is a reporter for MLB.com. Read her blog, By Gosh, It's Langosch, follow her on Twitter @LangoschMLB, like her Facebook page Jenifer Langosch for Cardinals.com and listen to her podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.