CINCINNATI -- Rafael Furcal ranks fourth among active players with 29 leadoff home runs in his career. But manager Mike Matheny knows Furcal's value for the Cardinals is based more on his ability to keep the ball out of the air.
"He's going to accidentally bump into some, and he's got some power still," Matheny said. "But when he does that, his swing falls apart. He needs to work the count. I knew his approach would become more consistent."
There's nothing at all wrong with Furcal's swing through the first four games. After a rough spring in which he hit .192, Furcal is 10-for-23 (.435) with three doubles, two stolen bases, three runs scored and three RBIs.
Furcal became the first Cardinals player to have back-to-back three-hit games to begin the season since Tony Scott in 1979.
"It's fun to watch the ball go over the fence, but it's a trap that a lot of guys at the top of the order fall into," Matheny said. "You see guys' careers go in a direction they didn't want because they [fell] into that trap."