ST. LOUIS -- The question posed to Cardinals manager Mike Matheny on Wednesday was a natural follow-up the day after Carlos Beltran connected for his team-leading fourth home run.
Has he considered moving the six-time All-Star outfielder down in the lineup?
The rationale, of course, would be to create more-run scoring opportunities for Beltran -- who hit his fifth homer, a two-run shot in the second inning off the Reds' Mat Latos. There'd be a greater chance, too, that his home runs would come with runners on base. Matheny has certainly considered such an alternative, but for now, he plans to avoid any tinkering.
"When things are going well, I think you can over think a little bit and outthink yourself," Matheny said. "You're going to have to pick your poison, but right now, we have a good solid group behind him that have had hard at-bats. I like where he is right now."
When Matheny has had all his regulars healthy and in the lineup, Beltran has been the team's regular No. 2 hitter. Three of Beltran's four homers have come from that spot in the order. But all were hit with the bases empty.
Beltran's other home run was a two-run blast, and it came on a day when he moved to the cleanup spot because of an injury to Lance Berkman.
Beltran's high career on-base percentage was one of the factors Matheny cited when he decided to begin the year with the right fielder hitting ahead of Matt Holliday. In many ways, the decision to hit Beltran near the top of the order has worked. His .467 on-base percentage ranks fifth in the National League, and only two players had scored more runs than him entering Wednesday. Beltran also leads the Cardinals with six multi-hit games and seven walks.
"There will be times when it won't be working and you've got to start being creative," said Matheny, whose offense led the league in most offensive categories entering play Wednesday. "But I don't think it's now."