After three-hit night, Furcal receives breather

After three-hit night, Furcal receives breather

PHOENIX -- Having started 28 of the team's first 29 games, Rafael Furcal was due a day off soon. Manager Mike Matheny chose Tuesday.

Making the start at short in Furcal's place was Daniel Descalso, who had not played the position yet this year. Jon Jay took Furcal's leadoff spot in the lineup.

Matheny has not been shy in finding opportunities to rest his veteran players, living by the belief that a day off now will increase the number of games played later. Perhaps more surprising is that Furcal hasn't had more nights off before this one.

He was one of several position players the Cardinals were prepared to rest regularly because of injury woes in recent years. Furcal's good health and quick start, however, altered some of those projections. He simply hasn't slowed -- physically or at the plate.

Furcal has already accrued 12 multi-hit games -- including a three-hit night on Monday -- and entered Tuesday with the National League's seventh-best batting average (.342). He leads the club with 40 hits, all from the leadoff position.

"I think you're seeing a different approach this year than you did last year," Matheny said of Furcal. "There was a point there where we did have some tough conversations about what we were going to need as we moved forward."

Those conversations, which happened during Furcal's rough Spring Training, included directives to cease swinging for the fences and revert back to the small-ball approach that Furcal had built his career on. Though he did line a 441-foot home run on Monday, Furcal has enjoyed this success while riding such an approach.