Moss finding offensive rhythm without regular at-bats

Moss finding offensive rhythm without regular at-bats

ST. LOUIS -- The makeup of the Cardinals' roster doesn't leave regular at-bats available to Brandon Moss, not with Jeremy Hazelbaker forcing himself into the outfield mix and the addition of Matt Holliday as a first-base option.

But that offensive traction that Moss never quite found with the Cardinals last season is something he believes he's in position to maintain now, even as a part-time player. A healthy offseason and a productive spring have given way to a decent start for Moss, who never emerged in 2015 as the run-producing bat the Cards hoped they had acquired at the non-waiver Trade Deadline.

Moss drove in eight runs over 151 plate appearances last season. Through the team's first eight games of 2016, his RBI total already sits at five.

"I feel good," Moss said. "Obviously, there are days it feels better and days it doesn't. But I feel like this year I'm in a better position to go out and grind an at-bat out than I was last year. Even when you don't have it together every day, you can go up there and look for a pitch and make an adjustment. Whereas last year, I struggled doing that."

Moss worked his way back into the lineup on Thursday, a day after he belted a game-tying pinch-hit home run in the eighth inning. It marked his fifth start in nine days, the best manager Mike Matheny has been able to do without sacrificing playing time for his young outfielders or Holliday.

The versatility that the Cardinals anticipated would build in more opportunities for Moss has been mostly a non-factor so far. Because Hazelbaker has wedged his way into the lineup regularly, four of Moss' five starts have come at first base.

Moss' three-run shot

"I just like the way he's going about his at-bats," Matheny said. "I've seen a couple of nice, real-close swings. Even yesterday before he hit the home run, there were a couple pitches you could tell his timing was right, and he feels pretty good about where he is right now. [I am] going to try and keep all these guys sharp, but you only have eight spots in the lineup to do that. Just try to keep them all as active as we can, whether it's off the bench or getting them their starts when we can."

Worth noting

Tommy Pham (left oblique strain) said he has been cleared to do some outfield tracking work, and he hopes to resume swinging by the end of next week.

• Carlos Peguero and Jonathan Rodriguez hit back-to-back home runs on Wednesday to help lead Triple-A Memphis to an 8-1 victory over the Dodgers' Triple-A affiliate.

Carlos Martinez will hold his second annual Celebrity Bowling Fundraiser at Flamingo Bowl in St. Louis on June 16 to raise money for local children and families in St. Louis and Puerta Plata, Dominican Republic. For more information on the event, which will be attended by Martinez and many of his Cardinals teammates, visit tsunamiwavesfoundation.com.

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.