Molina bats third against Indians

Molina bats third against Indians

ST. LOUIS -- When he takes the field on Saturday night for the 935th start of his nine-year career, Cardinals catcher Yadier Molina will be hitting third in the lineup for the first time.

Cardinals rookie manager Mike Matheny went with a different lineup for Saturday night's game against the Indians at Busch Stadium. Molina was hitting third, behind centerfielder Carlos Beltran.

"I'd say he's our best hitter right now," Matheny said of Molina. "Just kind of watching how he's gone about every at bat, whether it's men on base or getting an inning started, he's going about it well right now. I wanted to put that lineup out there with kind of a full offense with Carlos in center. I've been thinking about it for a while now. I like the way it lays out."

Molina has never been in the starting lineup as a leadoff hitter and has only once (in 2008) been in the No. 2 spot. He has made 359 starts batting seventh and 311 starts batting sixth, with 14 starts as the clean-up hitter and 48 as the fifth-place hitter.

The 29-year-old catcher batted .305 with 32 doubles, 14 home runs and 65 RBIs a year ago and went into Saturday's game hitting .337 with 14 doubles, eight home runs and 32 RBIs in 53 games.

"He's done a nice job in the six hole and the six hole's been pretty important, but typical thinking in baseball is to try get your better hitters in as many times as you can and a lot of times that's trying to get them up in the order," Matheny said. "I like the idea. We'll just see how it plays out. There's nothing written in stone here with this. I think it's an acknowledgement to him of what he's done so far. I know he's just as fine if we threw him in the eight hole. He just wants to do what he can to win. I think this is something worth looking at."