PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. (CBSNewYork/AP) — Mike Matheny wants his offense be a little less streaky.
The St. Louis Cardinals manager got a small sampling of what his offense can do when the starters in the top five slots in the batting order combined to go 5-for-10 with four doubles and seven RBIs in a 12-4 win over the New York Mets.
“We tried a few different things, and we still faced that same dilemma of where it came in bunches or not at all,” Matheny said. “It was just one of those years. You look at the whole product and you realize our offense did a nice job overall.”
Carlos Beltran hit a two-run double in a four-run third inning, Yadier Molina and John Jay added RBI doubles in the fourth. St. Louis finished with 14 hits.
Matheny expects to see plenty of extra-base hits this season.
“You can put down some different lineups with everyone healthy, and we could have some considerable thump all the way through it,” Matheny said. “We have enough talented guys, they’re going to be able to put runs across the board. It’s just a matter of them demanding of themselves the consistency it takes to be a championship team.”
Mets scheduled starter Zack Wheeler was scratched because of a mild oblique strain sustained while swinging a bat in the cage during pregame workouts. A top prospect obtained from San Francisco in the trade that sent Beltran to the Giants two years ago, Wheeler met Beltran for the first time before the game.
“I’d rather be out one start than two months and be behind the eight-ball when I do come back,” Wheeler said. “Early in the spring you don’t want to risk anything.”
Wheeler, likely to open the season at Triple-A, had pitched two shutout innings in relief Saturday. He said a muscle on his right side was feeling “a little stiff” but he didn’t believe it was anything serious.
“He tried to throw and didn’t experience any problem, but he was sore to the touch so we backed him off,” general manager Sandy Alderson said of Wheeler.
Mets manager Terry Collins said Wheeler could have pitched but there was no reason to push him.
“When you look at the big picture, one of the big things is the future and the big promise we have coming, and it’s on the mound,” Collins said. “We’ve got to be very careful because we aren’t going to do anything to hurt this guy.”
The 22-year-old Wheeler is still on schedule for Opening Day at Triple-A Las Vegas, according to the Mets’ official website. But Wheeler has his sights set on making the big club right out of camp.
“I don’t want to miss a start at all,” he said. “I’m trying to go out there and win a spot like I said from Day 1. I would rather be out one start than two months and be behind the eight-ball once I do come back.”
Wheeler was replaced by Darin Gorski, who allowed four runs, three hits and three walks in two-plus innings.
Cardinals starter Lance Lynn gave up two runs and four hits in two innings in his spring training debut, including John Buck’s two-run homer in the second. He struck out three and walked none.
Lynn arrived at camp 40 pounds lighter than last year.
“You always just want to get out there and make sure you feel good,” he said. “For the most part, I was throwing the ball where I wanted to and was throwing strikes, so it was good for the first time out. I wasn’t worried about giving up hits or striking anyone out. I just wanted to throw at the strike zone, so 20 of 27 pitches for strikes, I will take that any day. That’s a good one to build off of.”
Michael Wacha, the Cardinals’ top selection in last June’s amateur draft, relieved Lynn and made his second appearance of spring training.
The 21-year-old right-hander, who hasn’t pitched above Double-A, struck out five and gave up only one hit in three innings. Over two outings, he has allowed two hits and an unearned run in five innings with eight strikeouts and no walks.
“That guy right now can pitch in the big leagues,” catcher Yadier Molina said.
NOTES: Mets ace Johan Santana is expected to resume throwing off a mound Friday for the first time since being diagnosed with left shoulder fatigue and could face batters in a “B” game or batting practice Tuesday. … Matheny said Matt Adams (knee) and Allen Craig (shoulder) could return to the field within a couple of days. … Mets closer Frank Francisco threw from flat ground for the second time since being cleared to resume tossing Monday. Francisco, slowed by elbow inflammation, played catch with bullpen coach Ricky Bones from a distance of about 70 feet. … Mets reliever Robert Carson was hit in the calf on a comebacker in the sixth inning but stayed in and gave up a two-run homer to Shane Robinson.
Mets fans, how worried are you about Wheeler? Be heard in the comments…
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