ST.LOUIS -- Carlos Beltran was asked about hitting in the No. 2 spot in the lineup following Saturday night's game and gave an interesting response:
"For me, honestly, this year has been more difficult than any year, because some days I'm hitting two, some days I'm hitting third, some days I'm hitting fourth," he said. "As a player I like to come to the ballpark and know that I'm going to hit in one spot and just be there so I can prepare myself. Sometimes when you have to move so much in the order, it requires a little bit of mental preparation. You have to approach the game a little bit different. But I guess [Manager] Mike [Matheny] feels sometimes he will use me in different order."
Beltran was back in the No. 2 spot for the 19th time on Sunday and had another strong game from the two hole, with a solo home run in the first inning, a single in the sixth and a walk to load the bases in the eighth. He is now hitting .293 (22-for-75) with 10 of his National League-leading 18 home runs and 17 of his 46 RBIs in that spot. In the fourth spot, Beltran is batting .294 with seven homers and 27 RBIs. He's started 31 games in the No. 4 spot this season.
The Cardinals outfielder explained the differences in the spots.
"The difference is, when I'm hitting second, I'm more aggressive," he said. "When I'm hitting fourth, I have to be a little more patient because I'm not going to get the pitches that normally you would get hitting second. Hitting second, the pitcher is trying to be aggressive. When you're hitting fourth, sometimes you hit with guys in scoring position and then the pitchers don't want to give you the ball right down the middle so you have to be patient and work the count."
Matheny was asked before Sunday's game about Beltran hitting second.
"You can't ignore how effective he's been in that two-hole," he said. "Maybe it's just coincidence. Whatever it is it just works for him. He's been productive [at] four also. I'm certain if we throw him in three, he's going to do well. It just seems with this lineup, it's a nice fit for him in that two spot."