LOS ANGELES - As Dexter Fowler's hitless skid extended to 20 at-bats on Wednesday in the Cardinals' 6-1 win over the Dodgers, dropping his averaged precariously close to the Mendoza line, manager Mike Matheny acknowledged the possibility of rethinking Fowler's place in the lineup as a way to try to spark his bat.
However, that doesn't mean Matheny is ready to do so immediately. As he's done with other struggling veterans, Matheny would prefer to give Fowler a longer leash than most because he's had such sustained success from the leadoff spot.
"When a guy has had so much success in the one position and been around for so long, it's something you want to give him the benefit of the doubt for," Matheny said. "[It] still seems early in the year. But it's something that we've got to also get it fixed to see how we can make this lineup most effective. I don't want to make it seem like I've got my head stuck in the sand … that these guys are going to keep running out in the same position. I don't think that's accurate either. But I think certain guys get more latitude even if it doesn't look quite right, they get more opportunity."
Fowler entered Wednesday with a batting average (.203) and on-base percentage (.303) that ranked 22nd and 19th, respectively, among the 24 leadoff hitters with at least 90 at-bats this season. He followed that with an 0-for-4 showing.
Fowler has now managed one multihit game this month and is 4-for-35 since returning to the lineup following a minor shoulder injury. In every game he's started this year, Fowler has hit first.
Nevertheless, the production hasn't been as expected from a player who came into the season tied for first in on-base percentage (.367) and fourth in slugging percentage (.432) among all leadoff hitters (min. 500 games) in baseball.
"I know the kind of hitter that he is and can be, so I just don't come to too many conclusions and make too many radical adjustments right now," Matheny said. "You can't take a month and a half of the season and say that our minds are made up."
Jenifer Langosch has covered the Cardinals for MLB.com since 2012, and previously covered the Pirates from 2007-11. 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.