HOUSTON -- Back in Spring Training, Cardinals manager Tony La Russa said that on-base percentage would dictate his choice of a leadoff man. Within reason, of course, since the skipper has no plans to put Albert Pujols in the No. 1 spot.
On Monday, La Russa put his lineup where his mouth is, rewarding Cesar Izturis for a strong start by putting Izturis at No. 1 in the batting order. Izturis is hitting .250, but thanks to five walks and a hit-by-pitch, he has gotten on base at a .455 clip entering Monday's game.
"I think it sets up well," La Russa said. "He's been swinging the bat well right-handed, to me."
Izturis is 3-for-7 against left-handed pitchers on the year, and he's reached base in six of 10 plate appearances against them. Historically, he hasn't been much of an on-base man, and typically he's been better from the left side, so it's not all that likely that the success will last. But for now, La Russa is taking advantage of the opportunity.
Skip Schumaker led off the first three games of the season, but has sat out four straight games against left-handed starters after getting off to a slow start. Brian Barton led off all three games over the weekend at home against Washington, but was replaced by Chris Duncan in left field on Monday.
Matthew Leach is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.