Piscotty sits out for second straight day

Outfielder likely has food poisoning; Cards to use upcoming off-days wisely

Piscotty sits out for second straight day

MILWAUKEE -- A scheduled day off for Stephen Piscotty turned into two after he reported to Miller Park weaker than normal on Monday due to what the Cardinals believe was a bout of food poisoning.

Piscotty was supposed to be back in the lineup for the team's series opener after sitting on Sunday, that day off coming after a stretch of 26 straight starts. Instead, the Cardinals scratched him late Monday morning, inserting Brandon Moss to play right field and giving Piscotty a day to recover.

Manager Mike Matheny does expect to have Piscotty available off the bench.

"It actually kind of worked out," Matheny added. "Those two days are sometimes real good for a kid who has worked as hard as he has worked."

As the Cardinals look ahead at their upcoming schedule, they see a plethora of built-in days of rest coming for all their players. Beginning on Thursday, the Cardinals have five scheduled off-days within a 22-day period. That first off-day comes at the end of a stretch in which the club played 40 games in a 42-day span.

The approaching time off should especially benefit the Cardinals' bullpen, which has been taxed as of late because of so many short starts. Since the club's last day off on May 17, Cardinals relievers have covered 43 innings, the fifth-highest total in the Majors.

The congestion of off-days would also allow the Cardinals the flexibility to toy with their rotation. There will be an opportunity to skip someone's start, if needed, or give everyone in the group extra days between outings.

For some of the club's infielders, there could be even more rest coming, too, as the Cardinals prepare for Jhonny Peralta's return. When he rejoins the big league club, the Cardinals will try to work a plethora of infielders -- Peralta, Aledmys Diaz, Matt Carpenter, Matt Adams, Kolten Wong, Jedd Gyorko and Moss -- into four spots.

That means players who have been used to starting regularly in the Majors may no longer get those daily starts.

For one player, however, that could be beneficial. Diaz is facing the first 162-game schedule of his career, and he's doing so after playing only 163 games total from 2014-15 due to injury. Before that, Diaz sat out for 18 months while waiting for his residency paperwork to be completed following his defection from Cuba.

Knowing how much Diaz could be pushed this season motivates the Cardinals to find opportunities to press pause. Getting Peralta back will allow the club to be more liberal in resting the rookie shortstop.

"We don't really know," Matheny said, when asked how much the Cardinals can push Diaz. "We don't have any track record. Once again, it's, 'What does it look like? How does it feel?' We stay in contact with him.

"We actually have some stats and some analytics going into how much work and how much rest. But it comes down, also, to this game is a grind, especially at that position. He's going to have to push and trust us that we're going to get him time when he needs it."

Jenifer Langosch has covered the Cardinals for MLB.com since 2012, and previously covered the Pirates from 2007-11. Read her blog, follow her on Twitter, like her Facebook page and listen to her podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.