Cards following Matheny's aggressive lead

Cards following Matheny's aggressive lead

MILWAUKEE -- While not actively seeking to craft a new identity for his offense, manager Mike Matheny spent the spring encouraging his players to step up their aggressiveness. The purpose behind the push was done not to force stolen bases upon anyone, but to improve instincts on the basepaths.

"I wanted them to get in their mind to be thinking on the bases," Matheny said.

The sample size is tiny, but through two games, the Cardinals have shown some signs of increased aggressiveness. In addition to swiping three bases in four tries, there have been two attempts to stretch singles into doubles -- one successfully, the other not. Rafael Furcal has stolen two bases; Carlos Beltran, the other.

Matheny has said he won't grant an automatic green light to anyone, preferring to keep some of the control on when players run in the dugout.

The Cardinals stole only 57 bases last season, a total that ranked 29th in baseball. The club finished at the bottom in terms of success rate with its 59 percent mark.

"We have a couple guys who have a good history of being able to take a base in the right situation and have good instincts with that," Matheny said. "We'll continue to be aggressive when it makes sense."