Mather makes great first impression

Mather makes a great impression

ST. LOUIS -- It did not take long for Joe Mather to impress the fans. It certainly did not take long to impress Cardinals manager Tony La Russa, either.

The day after the Cardinals called him up to the big leagues, Mather made his second straight start in right field and in the No. 2 spot in the batting order Saturday. La Russa said Mather earned the start after helping the team in Friday's 5-4 win over the Pirates.

"We put him there quite a bit in Spring Training," La Russa said. "He can handle it all right."

Besides the obvious benefit of helping his confidence, hitting in front of Albert Pujols -- one of the premier hitters in the game -- certainly does not hurt his chances of continuing to impress.

"I get to watch [Pujols] from first, second or third base," Mather said. "He's one of the best hitters in the game -- if not the best. Hopefully I get some more strikes because of that."

Mather jumped out to a quick start in his first game with the Cardinals, especially making a strong impression in the second inning.

With a runner on first base, Mather fully extended his body to make a spectacular grab in the right-field corner. His catch earned him the No. 3 spot in SportCenter's Top 10.

"Honestly, as it kept getting lower, I thought I wasn't going to make it," Mather said.

After making solid contact in his first three at-bats, Mather drove a fastball into center field for his first Major League hit.

Mather, who enjoyed a fine year at Double-A Springfield last season, hit .315 with 12 home runs in 143 at-bats for Triple-A Memphis before the Cardinals called him up Friday.

Lee Hurwitz is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.