CINCINNATI -- Though the Cardinals entered the season without a permanent starting second baseman, the organization maintained that Tyler Greene would get ample opportunity to seize the spot.
He never did, leaving the Cardinals to institute a rotation at the position. That rotation is still ongoing, yet it is Greene who now finds himself on the outside looking in. And with recent starting opportunities rare, Greene is attempting to adjust to a bench role that has, to this point, also proved challenging.
Greene took his 11th at-bat as a pinch-hitter on Saturday and ended it with a popup that stranded the bases loaded. During Sunday's 4-2 loss, Green struck out as a pinch-hitter leading off the ninth against the Reds' Aroldis Chapman. Greene is still seeking his first hit as a pinch-hitter this season.
"It's a struggle for anybody, especially for someone who has never done it before," Cardinals manager Mike Matheny said of the role. "A lot of times the moment gets ahead of you and you lose what you try to accomplish. [The coaching staff is] continuing to try to work with him on pinch-hit philosophy and having a good idea when you go up there."
Familiarity with the role is being forced upon Greene, who has started just nine games since June 4. He has attempted to establish a routine -- one that includes in-game work in the batting cages and preparation for various pitching matchups -- when he's not in the starting lineup, though it's all still a work in progress.
"The unfortunate thing is that you have one shot," said Greene, who is 5-for-34 in his career as a pinch-hitter. "The toughest part of it is understanding the big picture -- that you might get one at-bat within several days. As a player, you're so used to getting three or four at-bats in a game to build off of. Instead of recognizing progress or adjustments by days, you're now doing it by the week. That's an adjustment, mentally, to get used to. That can easily bring you down or affect you mentally."
The reason for the scarcity of playing time available to Greene is two-fold. Not only has he not performed to a level that warrants additional at-bats, but the Cardinals also have two other second basemen -- Skip Schumaker and Daniel Descalso -- who have outperformed him.
Schumaker has been the best of the three offensively, entering Sunday with a .325 batting average in 47 games. Descalso has shown the most on defense, which, too, has been of value. On Sunday, for instance, Matheny plugged Descalso into the starting lineup given the high number of ground balls that were expected with starter Jake Westbrook on the mound.