Notes: Wilson called on to lead off

Notes: Wilson called on to lead off

ST. LOUIS -- Right fielder Preston Wilson batted leadoff Friday night, marking the fourth different Cardinals player to do so this season.

Wilson wasn't originally in the lineup for the game, but the Astros switched starting pitchers, forcing Cardinals manager Tony La Russa to change his lineup.

Chris Sampson was the scheduled starter for the Astros but was scratched before the game because of a sinus infection. Former Cardinal Woody Williams took his place as the starter. Williams was scheduled to pitch Saturday's matinee on five days' rest.

Second baseman Adam Kennedy was in the leadoff spot when La Russa first made up his lineup, but La Russa moved him down to sixth in the order.

Wilson, who is 6-for-17 lifetime against Williams with two home runs and nine RBIs, hasn't batted leadoff this season.

"No matter where you are in the lineup, you're looking to give your team a spark," Wilson said. "It's all hitting -- it's just a different spot in the lineup. Doesn't matter to me."

Shortstop David Eckstein spent 21 games as the Cardinals leadoff hitter, but was moved down to eighth during the series against the Brewers earlier in the week. Eckstein has struggled so far this season and is batting .220 on the season with an on-base percentage of .253.

"[Eckstein's] hit twice out of the first spot, and I've liked it." La Russa said. "It looks like he's been more himself."

In his two games in the eighth spot, Eckstein is 1-for-7 with one walk.

La Russa also made another change in the lineup. Center fielder Jim Edmonds was originally in the lineup, but he was taken out. The weather before game time wasn't ideal, and the tarp was on the field. La Russa said he wasn't sure about playing Edmonds in wet conditions, especially with a day game scheduled for Saturday.

So Taguchi took Edmonds' spot and batted fifth. Taguchi had faced Williams just twice and had two hits and one RBI. Edmonds was 4-for-22 lifetime against his former teammate.

Rehab update: La Russa still isn't sure when right fielder Juan Encarnacion will return to the Cardinals. Encarnacion is currently rehabbing from left wrist surgery he had in the offseason.

The injured right fielder has struggled a bit at Double-A Springfield. Encarnacion is 2-for-33 with one RBI. He doesn't have any extra-base hits.

La Russa said that based on reports he was getting from coaches in Springfield, Encarnacion was playing better than his stats indicated.

Major League players are only allowed to play 20 games on a rehab assignment, Encarnacion has played in eight. La Russa said with all the off-field events, he hadn't given much time to thinking about his right fielder. He wasn't sure if Encarnacion would rejoin the team during their current homestand.

Still waiting on Carp: Team physician George Paletta was going to check on injured pitcher Chris Carpenter before the game Friday.

Carpenter has had two successful bullpen sessions in the last week -- one in St. Louis last weekend and one in Milwaukee during that road series. Both times, Carpenter woke up the next morning with no swelling or discomfort in his injured right elbow.

La Russa said they would decide what happens next with Carpenter after Paletta checks him out. The Cards haven't announced a starter for Tuesday's game against the Rockies. La Russa said he would wait until the weekend to get serious about Carpenter's next start.

More sad news: Still mourning the loss of relief pitcher Josh Hancock, two more people associated with the Cardinals got bad news this week.

Third-base coach Jose Oquendo's father in-law passed away, and team trainer Barry Weinberg's dad passed away. La Russa said someone on behalf of the Cardinals would attend Weinberg's dad's funeral Sunday.

Oquendo did not coach third on Friday night. Bench coach Joe Pettini filled in.

Rough start: The Cards 10-16 start to the 2007 season is their worst since 1990, when they also started 10-16. The Redbirds are seven games out of first place for the first time since Sept. 2, 2001.

This date in Cardinals history: On May 4, 1994, the Cardinals staged an impressive comeback in Colorado, scoring three runs in the eighth and two more in the ninth to come back from a 5-1 deficit and beat the Rockies, 6-5. Bernard Gilkey capped off the comeback in the top of the ninth with a two-run homer to give the Cards their first lead of the game.

Baby 'Birds: Triple-A Memphis lost to Omaha, 7-2. Randy Keisler started for the Redbirds and gave up six runs on nine hits in 6 1/3 innings ... Double-A Springfield split a doubleheader at Wichita. Springfield won the first game, 7-5. Joe Mather hit his 11th home run of the season and Colby Rasmus hit his fourth. In the second game, Springfield lost, 6-5, despite a two-run triple from Jon Jay ... Class A Palm Beach beat Brevard County, 5-1, behind a strong outing from starter Adam Ottavino. Ottavino went five innings and gave up one run on four hits. Mark Hamilton went 2-for-4 with two RBIs ... Class A Quad Cities beat Great Lakes, 3-0. Starter P.J Walters went five shutout innings and gave up five hits and struck out seven. Brandon Buckman hit his sixth home run of the season.

Coming up: The Cards and Astros will continue their three-game series on Saturday at 12:10 p.m. CT. Kip Wells will make his seventh start of the season. Matt Albers will start for the Astros, after originally being scheduled to start Sunday, before Sampson got sick.

Daniel Berk is an associate reporter for This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.