ST. LOUIS -- It appears as if the Cardinals have settled on a new regular leadoff hitter, at least for as long as it takes Rafael Furcal to move past the nagging back stiffness that has coincided with his drop in production.
Manager Mike Matheny plugged Jon Jay into that leadoff spot for a second straight game Thursday. And, encouraged by how Jay has seemingly turned a corner offensively, Matheny seems ready to keep the center fielder there.
"I do like Jon Jay at the top of the lineup, especially with the way he's swinging the bat right now, even against the lefties," Matheny said after the Cardinals' 3-1 win Thursday. "He puts together a good at-bat. He's not afraid to work the count.
"Now, with that being said, I think we all saw where Rafael Furcal, when he is right, what he can do at the top of the lineup, so we're not ruling out that that's going to come back around. But right now it's a good fit for Raffy to sit down in the eight-spot and really work the count. I'm confident he's going to get back there, and we'll have a tough decision about how to use that leadoff spot."
Jay would seem to fit the mold of what the Cardinals are looking for at that top spot in the order. His .383 on-base percentage is third-best on the club, behind only Matt Holliday and Skip Schumaker. Jay, as he displayed Thursday, also has the speed to set up RBI opportunities for the team's middle-of-the-lineup hitters.
Jay swiped two bases Thursday, giving him a team-leading 13 this season.
"Just every day I'm working hard, trying to keep it simple and have good at-bats," said Jay, downplaying any significance to where he hits in the order.
Jay has been getting on base with regularity lately, too. He has notched four straight multi-hit games, going 10-for-15 during that stretch.