Matheny wants Furcal to focus on small ball

Matheny wants Furcal to focus on small ball

ST. LOUIS -- Hours after Cardinals manager Mike Matheny lauded Rafael Furcal's overhauled approach, the shortstop reverted back to some bad habits on Saturday.

Matheny has credited Furcal's quick start to his willingness to return to the slashing, small-ball approach that helped him establish himself in the Majors many years ago. Furcal often discarded that for the chance to drive more balls last year, which then turned into the worst offensive year of his career. He fell into that same trap for much of Spring Training, and again, the results were not near expectation.

"He knows that when he has power, that should be an absolute accident," Matheny said. "I think he's having fun again right now realizing that he can be that guy that gets on base. I hope he hits [zero] home runs and does exactly what he's doing. He'll have a phenomenal year if he stays with that approach."

For the most part, Furcal has stuck with the approach. He's ridden it, too, to a .310 batting average and .383 on-base percentage to begin the year. On Saturday, all four outs he hit into were fly balls.

"That's more the mentality that he got into a couple hitters' counts and got big [with his swing] again," Matheny said. "He knows that can lead to some bad things, so hopefully he makes the adjustment [Sunday]."

Furcal did in his first at-bat, chopping a single through the middle of the field. That was his first hit in eight at-bats this homestand. He followed with an RBI single down the third-base line in the second.