CINCINNATI -- Mike Matheny's tenure as St. Louis Cardinals manager is just five regular-season games old entering Tuesday's contest against the Reds. But he said it hasn't been much different than being a player in terms of preparation and mental fatigue.
"I'm exhausted at the end of the game, and I love that," Matheny said. "And I haven't done anything except sat there and barked at an umpire every once in a while. Just that focus. It's very similar to when I played. I like that demand, having to be on point all the time."
Matheny said he arrives at the ballpark around noon each day. He works out almost daily to maintain his physical condition throughout the season, and gets some scouting work done in the meantime. Call it multi-tasking, something a catcher who logged 13 Major League seasons might know something about.
"I liked walking off the field [as a player] and being completely spent," Matheny said. "That's how I knew I was where I was supposed to be, and I was doing what I needed to do."
Matheny has been credited for the Cardinals' loose clubhouse, but he says that has more to do with winning than any particular culture he's tried to implement. While the players appear to be enjoying themselves during Matheny's rookie year as skipper, it hasn't been at the expense of their day-to-day responsibilities as professional ballplayers.
"You're always teetering on ... that you don't want it to be a country club," Matheny said. "But there's nothing wrong with liking where you show up to go to work every day. The atmosphere means a lot to how guys do their job."
With the Cardinals' 4-1 start and consistent starting pitching, it might appear at times that Matheny is managing from a rocking chair. Couldn't be further from the truth, says the man who assumed Tony La Russa's throne as St. Louis skipper. And the season has barely begun.
"Every day it's something new that I have to write on my yellow pad," Matheny said. "I'm constantly trying to keep notes. We're going to hit some storms that we can't even anticipate. How that's going to go, I can't even begin to tell you."